The importance of storytelling in science

Posted by Concettina Sfienti on June 1, 2014

Over the weekend I luckily happened to find a great video under Youtube taken  during the Origins Stories weekend.

In front of an audience of more than 3000 people this “Storytelling of Science” event presented a panel of well known scientists (among them  Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and  Lawrence Krauss)  discussing science stories (from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future).

Each of them gives a rather short speech (approximately 10 minutes) telling a story (or better sad “HIS story WITH science”) demonstrating how to convey the excitement of science to the public.  The audience is simply carried away for the whole time! If you have one an a half hour time, enjoy the show (it’s worth the time)



These events are unfortunately rare. In science we have still a long way to go, before we will be really able to convey our results and most importantly our passion. Actually it is not a problem with the subject: science is the most fascinated story which could be told!

I always tell my students, the difference between an interesting presentation, a good presentation and a great presentation, (independently on the results you are presenting) is that in the first case you get people listening because they are interested in what you are presenting, in the second case your audience begins reading email (at conferences) or thinking about something else after 10 minutes and in the third you get their complete awareness until the end.

After the 1 min talk the person should say “I want to hear more”, after the 5 min “I want to read about your work”, after the 15 min “I wish I was doing what you are doing”.

How? Well tell your audience a good story! Isn’t your research a chapter taken out of the novel of the Universe? “He who owns the narrative rules the world” (D. Kruger)

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