Washington University Sessions

Specialists from the Washington University community will provide practical tools and information to improve your science communication skills.

All sessions are free and open to anyone in the Washington University community, but registration is required.


Date/Time Session Title
Monday, September 26
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Making it Stick! Storytelling for Presentations and Beyond
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Enhancing the Visibility of your Work
Tuesday, September 27
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Communicating with the Media
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Grant your Wish: The Role of Storytelling in the Grant Application Process
Wednesday, September 28
9:00 – 12:00 p.m. Communicating about Risk: Perils, Pitfalls, and Strategies for Avoiding Them
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Sharing Science Across Cultures
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Just the Key Points, Please
Thursday, September 29
9:00 – 12:00 p.m. Primer on Qualitative Methods: Getting the Most out of your Methods
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. No Fear Public Speaking
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Beyond the Journal Article
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. THRIVE with PowerPoint

Making it Stick!  Storytelling for Presentations and Beyond
Presenter: Bridget Brown, School of Engineering

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But if you tell me a story, it will live in my heart forever.” In this session, you will learn how to craft messages for a specific audience that sticks with them by using basic storytelling techniques and constructing stories which are compelling and contain a call to action. We will discuss the specific story structure needed for great presentations, how to distill it for the specific audience to whom you are presenting and how to apply all of the above to articles, speeches and media interviews.

Enhancing the Visibility of Your Work
Presenters: Cathy Sarli & Amy Suiter, Becker Medical Library

This workshop will cover various strategies for participants to consider as they undertake research activities. The strategies are divided into three categories: 1) Preparing for Publication; 2) Dissemination; and 3) Tracking Your Research. After attending this workshop, participants will be able to better understand tools and approaches that can be used to enhance author profiles, promote discoverability and access of research findings, and document evidence of research impact.

Communicating with the Media
Presenters: Judy Martin Finch & Elizabethe Holland Durando, Medical Public Affairs

Presented by Medical Public Affairs staff, this presentation will cover how to work with the media. Specially, we will talk about how to identify a possible news story; how to pitch a story and provide information for media; and how to prepare for an interview. We’ll also fill you in on the best ways to contact MPA about possible stories so we can help get the word out about your work!

Grant Your Wish: The Role of Storytelling in the Grant Application Process
Presenter: Sandra Matteucci, School of Engineering

Transform your perfunctory responses in a grant application using storytelling techniques: your needs statement becomes the overall storyline, the problem or challenge escalates to create tension, and your research symbolizes the hero offering a promising outcome.  These techniques center your thinking around the critical question, “Why does this matter?”  The story may even strengthen your own resolve as you conduct your research.

Communicating about Risk: Perils, Pitfalls, and Strategies for Avoiding Them
Presenter: Erika Waters, PhD, MPH, Division of Public Health Sciences

Risk is a complicated and multifaceted concept that appears deceptively straightforward. This makes communicating about risk surprisingly difficult. Oftentimes scientists believe that their research “stands alone”, that “just telling people the numbers,” or “just telling people what to do” are effective communication strategies. However, over 30 years of empirical research demonstrates that this is not the case. When scientists communicate risk poorly, there is the possibility that, at minimum, people do not act to protect themselves. More severe outcomes of poor communication is public backlash against the scientist or against science itself.

Sharing Science across Cultures
Presenter: Mychal Voorhees, Becker Medical Library

Culture shapes how we explain the world and enhances our perspective. In healthcare and science, we communicate across cultures daily. Our culture often brings unique meaning and outlook to the conversation, but it can also lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding. This 1-hour talk will explore values and beliefs of science across cultures and will guide you in culturally competent communication with your colleagues, collaborators, and research participants.

Just the Key Points, Please
Presenter: Karen Dodson, Office of Faculty Affairs, School of Medicine

With the popularity of social networking, many top journals require that their authors refine their abstracts to “key points” to attract general readership and compete with other journals. Learn how this process works and how you can write your own effective key points and Twitter feeds. (Submit your examples for editorial review and presentation by September 1 to Karen Dodson at Karen.Dodson@wustl.edu; limited to the first four submissions.)

Primer on Qualitative Methods: Getting the Most out of your Methods
Presenter: Aimee S. James, PhD, MPH, Division of Public Health Sciences

Qualitative methods are increasingly common, but researchers struggle with getting the data that will really answer their questions and in designing the research in the first place.  The workshop explores questions such as: How do you communicate your questions to participants in ways that prompt thoughtful and honest answers?  Is your topic better suited to group or individual data collection settings?  What do you need to consider when sharing those results back to the participants, communities, and both lay and scientific audiences?

This three-hour workshop would walk participants through the development of a qualitative study, or the qualitative arm of a larger study.  Attendees are welcome to bring their study and study challenges to this participatory workshop and learning experience.  We will not go in-depth into analysis, but will address how to select and present participant quotes, and considerations for sharing data with former participants, lay community members, and other scientists.

No Fear Public Speaking
Presenter: Bridget Brown, School of Engineering

What if it was easy to stand up in front of people?  What if you didn’t always think “They are all LOOKING AT ME!”  This interactive session not only provides you with insight into what actors do to stay focused when performing before a live audience; but it will get you up on your feet to try it yourself.  You WILL emerge with the secret of knowing how to look people in the eye and speak to a crowd without your nerves getting the best of you.  (Dress comfortably.  We will do a bit of moving around.)

Beyond the Journal Article
Presenters: Mychal Voorhees & Amy Suiter, Becker Medical Library

There are ways to share your research beyond simply publishing a journal article. This 1-hour presentation will offer guidance on promoting your research outside of the journal article, particularly through elevator speeches and simple social media messages. Not sure which social media platforms are best for sharing your research? We’ll cover that, too.

THRIVE with PowerPoint
Presenter: Bridget Brown, School of Engineering

You have heard the phrase “Death by PowerPoint.”  In fact you have suffered through that presentation and thought, “What the heck does that slide say?” all the while not listening to a word the presenter had to say. So how do you fix it?  This session covers the very basic elements of graphic design for the non-designer.  You will emerge from the session understanding how to better engage your audience and help them to better remember your presentation long after it ends.