Alan Alda, an actor and writer known widely for his role in the hit TV series M*A*S*H has redefined himself in the past two decades as a crusader for science communication. For 11 years Alda hosted Scientific American Frontiers, a PBS series in which he interviewed hundreds of scientists about the breakthroughs in science, engineering and medicine.
Alda soon realized that the conversational approach of these interviews lead to a surprisingly spontaneous and vivid presentation of their work. He wondered if scientists could be taught to communicate more if they learned to pay dynamic attention to their audience, connecting to them in a personal way. Using improvisational techniques he had learned in 50 years of acting on stage and on-screen, he devised what has come to be called The Alda Method™. Since 2009, thousands of scientists and doctors have participated in Alda Method™ workshops.
Effective science communication happens when we listen and connect. It happens when we use empathy. Communication is headed for success when we pay more attention to what the other person is understanding rather than focusing solely on what we want to say. - Alan Alda
Why Science Communication Matters
- Scientific literacy is essential to making informed decisions for our families and our lives, and it inspires a sense of wonder for the natural world and the ways in which it works
- Engaged and clear communication can translate research into sound public policy, grant funding for additional discovery and even improve cross-disciplinary collaboration to solve the world's greatest challenges
- Communication improves health outcomes, treatment compliance and patient satisfaction, saving countless lives
- Strong communication skills can improve understanding, empathy and respect, leading to improved team collaborations
- True understanding of research findings can inform sound economic and policy decisions and help improve the bottom line