How Can Scientists Give Good Speeches?

Good scientists often fear speaking in public
Good scientists often fear speaking in public
Image Credit: Nestlé

Giving a good speech is hard for just about anyone to do well. However, when it comes to scientists, it can often be even more difficult. Scientists often spend their time at work hidden away in a lab working by themselves or as a member of a small team. They may deal with complex subjects that are filled with many different buzz words. If they are call on to give a speech, all too often they don’t know where to start. Clearly communicating their ideas to people who may not be scientists can be a real challenge. How can scientists become good speakers?

The Challenge Of Speaking If You Are A Scientist

We need to understand that being a scientist is more than just exploring the unknown and making some calculations. A scientist has to harness data and present it in a way that a diverse audience will not only understand, but can also appreciate and act upon. What scientists need is a way to come out of their proverbial shells, share their findings and experience the joy of public speaking. Scientists have to work to improve their communication skills, both in academic arenas and social settings. This is a valuable practice, because scientists often toil in isolation. A typical scientist will spend a lot of time at the bench, doing calculations or lab work and so often they’re not interacting directly with other people.

We need to realize that scientists face the same obstacles as other professionals when it comes to both communication and public speaking. However, they often face the additional challenge of having to present complex data to a non-technical audience. If they have a lack of experience and training in how to communicate, then it can damage a scientist’s career. A lack of communication and presentation skills can endanger a scientist’s career promotions potential. Having excellent communication skills is a very important part of being a great scientist. It is becoming clear that in today’s highly competitive world, solely focusing on lab work is no longer enough for scientists.

Scientists may feel comfortable communicating one-on-one with customers, but when it comes to speaking in front of a group or giving a presentation, a scientist’s fear may intensify. The biggest obstacles are comfort and confidence. A scientist may have the ability to communicate with other scientists and perhaps also with people of various backgrounds. However, what they need to do is to hone their skill of public speaking through practice and feedback.

How Scientists Can Become Better Speakers

How can scientists become better public speakers? They need to learn to relax and to connect with their audience. In order to make this happen, they need to learn how to adapt and use impromptu techniques to engage their audience. This can be very important when these scientists speak “too technically” and the information goes over the heads of their audience members. Examples of speaking situations that scientists might find themselves in include if a boss asks for an impromptu opinion on a subject or a job interviewer asks the classic question “Where do you see yourself in two years?” In the end, the growth in a scientist’s speaking skills are measured by a higher degree of comfort and confidence in tackling such situations.

Scientists who can master the art of public speaking can handle impromptu project-status updates at departmental meetings, manage project activities and host group meetings. The goal of any scientist has to be to gain the confidence to lead scientific projects and lead task force members to successfully tackle many issues. Every scientist has their own set of unique skills. Painfully shy scientists may discover that they have a talent as a humorous speaker and be able to use that skill to boost their speaking abilities.

What All Of This Means For You

Becoming an accomplished public speaker is never an easy thing to do. It turns out that for scientists it may actually be even harder. The nature of being a scientist means that you are well training in a particular technical area and you spend your time either by yourself or in the company of like-minded individuals. This can make developing the skills need to give good speeches hard to do.

One of the biggest challenges that scientists face is that when they speak in public, they are often talking on topics that are very technical. This means that they need to find a way to take the complex and make it understandable by a diverse audience. They also have to find ways to come out of their shells and become comfortable giving speeches. Not being able to give speeches can hold back a scientist’s career. Scientists may feel comfortable speaking with other people, but speaking to a crowd can be a challenge.

The good news is that scientists can develop the public speaking skills that they need. As with everything else, this will take some time. However, they have been able to develop the skills that they needed to become a scientist and so these additional skills should not be too difficult. Once they have them, then they should be able to give effective speeches that provide their audience with clear understandable information. Even scientists can become good public speakers.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that scientists should speak on topics that they don’t work on?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As a speaker, you know that you are wonderful. Now all you have to do is to convince your audience that you are wonderful! The question is just exactly what the best way to go about doing this is. You could simply tell them that you are wonderful, but I think that we can all agree that that probably would not do the trick. Somehow you have to show them that you are wonderful and get them to agree with you. Good news – there is a way to go about doing this. It’s called bragging.