I don't know how many of you have broken out into dance in the middle of a presentation, but maybe it's not a bad idea!
The American Association for the Advancement of Science believes that "the human body is an excellent medium for communicating science -- perhaps not as data-rich as a peer-reviewed article, but far more exciting."
To encourage collaboration between scientists and artists, and to promote the engagement of the public with science, the AAAS held a "Dance your Ph.D." contest for anyone who is pursuing or has a Ph.D. in a science-related field.
Dance titles include, ""The role of vitamin D in beta cell function," "Hydrodynamic Trail Detection in Marine Organisms," and "Resolving Pathways of Functional Coupling in Human Hemoglobin Using Quantitative Low Temperature Isoelectric Focusing of Asymmetric Mutant Hybrids."
You can see the winners of the contest here. To read the explanation of each dance, watch it on YouTube and click the "more info" link. ABC News coverage here.
Science journalist John Bohannon, the creator of the contest, said, "I'm half joking when I say my point was that scientists can dance. The real mission here actually is to reach out to the public, to find new ways to explain vital scientific issues that are sometimes so abstruse that they get lost in the media.
"And so I thought, what better way to cut through the problem of jargon than to completely cut out language. Just use your body and music to explain your science."
There are myriad ways of getting your message across to your audience, expressing it in new and creative ways that they may not have heard before. The more engaging your message, the more memorable it will be. I've seen speakers sing, play music, do magic, tell stories, use toys and props, perform athletic feats, and use many other creative methods to make a point.
I can't say all of these activities gave the result the speaker wanted, but they were certainly entertaining, and definitely memorable. The speaker took a risk in getting away from the mundane and predictable. The risk may or may not pay off, but you won't know unless you try.
After watching these dance performances, can you still use the excuse that audiences need bullet points to understand your data?
Thanks to the BPS Research Digest for the heads up.