Why Science Must be Digestible

Growing up with a parent who is a physicist, my childhood was filled with science centers, airshows and home experiments in the garage. Living in a science-celebrated environment also means knowing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of technical information you don’t fully understand. It has prepared me for what I love to do today—helping organizations communicate complex, scientific or technical information in a way that’s digestible. At Ketchum, we call it Digestible Science. It is about helping scientists, doctors and engineers, who are solving some of today’s most challenging problems, articulate those solutions to audiences who must understand them, but don’t today.

Why is this important? Because according to findings by Pew Research Center, a sizable opinion gap exists between the general public and scientists on a range of science and technology topics. That means the non-science or non-tech communities don’t understand much of the amazing work being done today to tackle some of our greatest challenges. Communications Professor Melissa Marshall shares in her TEDTalk, Talk Nerdy to Me, that when science isn’t understood by the non-science community, the work of scientists isn’t done. We couldn’t agree more.

There is a delicate balance between “getting the science right” and not talking down or diluting the subject matter. When translating complex information into simple stories, a few of our Digestible Science Tips include:

Use Accessible, Plain Language
Technical terms and industry jargon are unfamiliar to many audiences and can hinder their understanding.

Acknowledge Concerns + Skepticism
Depending on the topic, consumers may know little about it and are eager to learn more. Embrace skepticism and answer questions when encountered. Most often, consumers want to better understand the topic, not challenge the science.

Share Personal Stories
Showing the people behind the solution is critical and personalizes the scientific breakthrough or technological advancement.

Use Visuals
We live in a visual age. Using pictures, infographics and videos helps convey complex stories in a simple way that keeps viewers engaged.

Show Your Passion
When solving some of today’s greatest challenges, from life-saving medicine to mitigating the energy crisis, let the passion come through! By sharing passion, listeners not only understand better but want to relate.

Ketchum’s Digestible Science team has worked with companies in a range of fields including biotechnology, healthcare, food, sustainability and technology. To learn more about how Digestible Science can help share your story, leave a comment below!