DR. MARY CARUSO DAILEY - KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE!

As I participated in a 3M-wide poster session this week, I was reminded of the importance of being able to communicate what you’re researching to a variety of people who may come up and talk to you during a poster session. This type of interaction starts early in school for most of us, when we are encouraged to participate in science fairs or other competitions where we start communicating our work to others. It takes a lot of practice to figure out how interested someone is or how much background they might have in what you’re doing. Therefore, it’s always nice to have a couple of different approaches or “rehearsed scripts” prepared when going through your poster with someone. For example, the content and how much detail you describe will be very different if you’re talking to someone with a scientific background versus a business or marketing background. When giving a very general description of your work, you want to make sure you answer questions such as, “why are you working on this?” or “why should I [as a member of your audience] care about this?” Answering these questions early in your presentation will help keep your audience’s attention as you keep talking through your poster. It helps to have a flow or order to your poster as well to walk your audience through your project. For fellow scientists, I’ve found that within the technical community at schools or industries, you still cannot assume that they know all the details and specifics about the materials, chemicals, or systems you are using. So, your job as a presenter is to teach your audience about your project in a way that they can best understand it. If you accomplish this, you have given a successful presentation and made a memorable interaction. Go forth and make these types of connections!