33 Communication Tools and Strategies | Communicating with a non-academic audience

When you spend so much time and effort into a specific area of research, it can often be challenging to explain said research to people from outside your field of study. The video below shows a great example of how research can be perceived and understood by a non-academic audience.

Although this example is of an academic looking to commercialize their research, the exchange in this video exemplifies a challenge that many academics and researchers may run into if they do not recognize the importance of matching the target audience with the content.

After going through the steps to develop a communications plan, you have likely concluded that your target audience will include both academic and non-academic personnel. When talking to non-academic personnel or academics from outside your field of study, you may need to alter your language and messaging to ensure that communication remains clear. The video above is a great example of what not to do when put in this type of situation.

Inside Higher Education outlined some best practices to keep in mind when communicating with audiences from outside your field of expertise:

  1. Get to the big picture first
  2. Speak slowly and clearly, but show your excitement for the topic
  3. Use simple language and sentences
  4. Repeat key points in multiple ways
  5. Relate the content to your audience’s life experiences
  6. Be self-aware and audience aware
  7. Be concise

Following these seven tips will greatly improve your ability to clearly and concisely communicate the importance and value of your presentation to an audience that may not understand some of the more technical or complicated aspects of your research or academic activities. These communication tips can also be useful when communicating with someone who is not a native speaker in the language you are using. By adapting your communication style, you can greatly increase the size of your target audience beyond those who have the knowledge, education and expertise to understand the intricacies of your research.

This concept of effectively communicating and engaging with communities will be discussed further in Module 5.

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