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Students at Intel ISEF 2013 Learn Tips to Communicate Science Effectively

Jack Franchetti of Jack Franchetti Communications, Inc. has been conducting the “Talking Science” symposium at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) for 15 years. This session teaches principles and techniques for communicating the science behind finalist’s projects to judges, the media, and the general public.

To compete at Intel ISEF, finalists must qualify by participating in Society for Science & the Public-affiliated fairs around the world. Their winning projects have great ideas, but as Franchetti points out, “Great ideas can get lost due to poor communication.”

Franchetti discusses the different aspects to how communication is received- visually (body language, eye contact, facial expressions, etc), tonally (sounding positive and enthusiastic, avoiding verbal fillers) and content. He also talks about the importance of including what is unique and special about projects beginning with the first response and getting to the point quickly, especially in situations with time limitations. He provides the following guiding principles:

  • Have a Primary/Core Message
  • Pay attention to the Impression you are Creating
  • Repetition is Important
  • If you don’t want to see it or hear it, don’t say it
  • Be brief and concise
  • Reinforce assertions with facts and examples
  • Personalize with quotes, analogies, experience, predictions, etc.
  • Think about what your weak points are and where you might be challenged ahead of time
  • Don’t be afraid of irrelevant questions- use them as a springboard to return to your core message
  • Prepare and practice

He demonstrates these points by calling on students from the audience as volunteers to participate at the beginning and end of the session in a faux radio interview, showing multiple videos for the audience to critique and learn from, and providing students with worksheets to use in creating their core messages and supporting materials. Intel ISEF finalists will be interviewed by multiple Grand and Special Award Organization judges on Wednesday and may also receive requests for media interviews throughout the week and after they return home.

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