Why did you choose to participate in Yale’s 3MT competition?
I have always really enjoyed physics outreach, but I participated in the competition this year because I want to continue to sharpen my science communication skills. After graduating, I plan to go on to a career in science policy, so it will be essential for me to able to describe complicated scientific ideas to a lay audience in a short period of time. I wanted to learn how to make a catchy and enticing pitch that would spark interest in the audience, and hopefully teach them something along the way.
What did you find most challenging about describing your research in this format?
The most challenging part of describing my research in this format was determining the most essential pieces of information that I wanted the audience to take away from my presentation. It was difficult to keep my slide and talk simple, because I wanted to go into so much more detail, but I had to keep it simple and only focus on a few main points.
Have you put these public communication skills into practice, and how have they contributed to your professional development since the competition?
One of the important communication skills I learned is to be succinct, but also tell a story. This has helped me reframe research talks, which can be really engaging, or really dry, depending on how the research is presented. I plan to apply the story-telling aspect to my upcoming research talks. But this skill is even more important for speaking to a lay audience, which I will continue to do in my career as I pursue science policy.
Do you have any advice for this year’s participants?
My advice would be to talk to friends and family that have no background in your area of research. Describing your research to them in the form of a conversation can help identify what assumptions and logical leaps you are making that you don’t even think about! For me, this also helped illuminate the most interesting and novel aspects of my research that got them excited, and I was sure to include them in my presentation.