The passionate scientist: Doing Q&A like Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Image by Napolean_70 via Flickr
Communication experts such as Jerry Weissman and Granville Toogood suggest that presentations should be delivered less like performances or speeches and much more like conversations. “Stop thinking that every time you stand up to say something you are making a speech?because you’re not,” says Toogood in The Articulate Executive. “What you are really doing is having an enlarged conversation.” One of the keys to a natural, conversational approach includes removing all barriers to natural communication with the audience, barriers such as reading off notes, standing behind a lectern, using jargon, failing to make good eye contact, and speaking too softly or in a language that is formal, stiff, or fails to appeal to the audience’s emotion and natural curiosity.

Now, there is this belief among some that scientists are necessarily dry, boring speakers, unable to communicate the relevance of their work to the greater public. But this is not necessarily so. Richard Feynman, for example, was a brilliant Nobel Prize winning scientist who was a passionate teacher and communicator, able to engage students and general audiences with great enthusiasm and clarity. Carl Sagan, of course, was known for his ability to talk clearly and passionately about the cosmos. Today, one of my favorite communicators ?Neil deGrasse Tyson? is also a scientist. Tyson is an astrophysicist with a great mind, infectious curiosity, and an amazing ability to inspire and inform audiences through his natural, conversational delivery style…

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