Become a storyteller (for science)

I had the pleasure of attending the Walkley Foundation’s Freelance Focus conference this week with support from the ASC and the UQ School of Journalism and Communication. It was a busy day, full of inspiring content that ranged from Noah Rosenberg (founder and CEO of Narratively) talking on fostering audiences and narrative, to Nathan Burman (comms guy for Twitter Australia) running a masterclass focused on best practice for the social medium.

Running  through the entire conference was the  theme of storytelling. It was a theme that seems particularly relevant to ASC given spreading science stories is a large part of what we do. So, here are five take home points that might just help you the next time you’re crafting a science story. Read along for the who, what, when, where, and why.

Who is your audience?

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), imagine your audience. Who is best suited to your tale of the impact of gravity on quantum weirdness?

Your audience shouldn’t just help you to manage the complexity of your language, it should also shape the mediums you choose to convey your story through.

What medium will you use to tell your story?

It might seem easiest to write a press release and hit send, but is that the most effective way of getting your story out there? Would a podcast be more accessible to your audience, would it make your story come alive? Choose a medium that embraces the key elements of your story – whether that be a soundbite, long-form article or ten-second GIF.

When should your story end?

Your story doesn’t need to be a one hour documentary to have impact. Think carefully about the ideal length of your work and be realistic about resourcing. It’s a cliché that rings true – sometimes less is more.

Where is the person in your story?

Personal tales make dry, complex information come alive. Whose experiences can you tap into to give warmth to your piece? Use their story to bring the unique and remarkable aspects of your story to light.

Why should people read your story?

Cultivating a community around your story will help increase its impact once published. Identify the people around you who will be interested and happy to share your tale with others.