Key takeaways from #SciComm Week

Becker Library recently hosted its first #SciComm Week to launch its new Center for Health and Science Communication. Three exceptional science communicators shared their expertise for the series. Here are a few highlights from the presentations.

Dr. Joyce Balls-Berry, Melissa Marshall and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

Transforming Slide Design

Melissa Marshall, Founder of Present Your Science, kicked off the week by sharing the assertion-evidence slide design principle. You can read more about this idea here. Two takeaways from the presentation include:  

  • Avoid using the default bulleted format in PowerPoint. Following the assertion-evidence design principle, each slide should have a simple headline message at the top. This headline should take up no more than 2 lines, using 28-point font or larger.   
  • You don’t need a slide for every point of your presentation. A blank screen can be a powerful presentation tool.  

If you missed Melissa’s presentation, check out her TEDGlobal Talk, Talk Nerdy to Me.  

Inclusion of Diverse Populations in Health Research

Dr. Joyce Balls-Berry, Associate Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, discussed the inclusion of diverse populations in health research and the university’s involvement in the All of Us Initiative. Some key points from this talk include:  

  • Effectively addressing inequities in research participation requires us to acknowledge their existence as harmful and unethical, as addressable rather than immutable.  
  • Readiness to engage in research is bidirectional and requires both the research team and the community. It involves four steps: contemplation, determination, action and maintenance.  

A recording of Dr. Balls-Berry’s talk will be available to view at a later date through Digital Commons@Becker.  

Creating Connections: An Introduction to the Alda Method

The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science facilitated a 2-hour workshop allowing participants the opportunity to practice summarizing their work in simple, engaging ways. Highlights from this workshop include:  

  • When sharing your science, keep in mind the different ways you can grab your audience’s attention. You can find common ground, share personal stories, use vivid language, or connect with humor.  
  • One of the most important aspects of sharing your work is communicating relevance. Always show or tell your audience why this message should matter to them. 

For reminders on upcoming topics and dates, sign up for the #SciComm Seminars mailing list at and select “Science Communication and Outreach” on the form.