In 2016 Lorenzo Gordon from Maldaba worked with Imperial College London. It was an entertaining collaboration between Lorenzo, director of Maldaba Ltd. and Professor Dominik Weiss, to guide undergraduate students in producing a presentation and in learning how to communicate with a non-scientific audience. Professor Weiss is Professor of Environmental Geochemistry at Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering, in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering. The undergraduates were learning about Arsenic in the environment, its life-cycle and its effect on humans. A strong part of Professor Weiss’s work also revolves around how research and academic information is communicated to the wider world, and for this he turned to Maldaba.
Through a series of workshops with the undergraduates, Lorenzo helped the students think about and understand the core messages they wanted to impart, their audience, their interests and language, the motivations that the target audience might have to watch the presentation, and what approaches might work most successfully to engage with their audience. “The key element was to take the students out of their own mindsets and colleagues, and put them in the shoes of the people who might be itnerested in learning more about Arsenic, but without a technical engineering background (nurses, community workers, and so on)” said Lorenzo. “The rest was really just introducing the students to the art of what’s possible.”
One of the students, Min, reflected on the input from Maldaba: “They taught us how to distill the information we learned, to make it more user-friendly. We’re used to the scientific part, but we’re more uncertain about translating that information to a mainstream audience.” Reflecting on the process with Maldaba, Min added “The way they gave feedback was very easy to work with, so it was great to work with Maldaba.”
Professor Weiss’s interests lie in understanding metals in the environment, and their impact on environmental (and human) systems. This was the first time he had attempted to disseminate his work to a wider, non-academic audience. “I wanted students to learn how to turn scientific information into a public outreach message. Maldaba was perfect to help me with this. This was a first foray for me, and I’m extremely happy with the outcomes. The students really enjoyed it too!“.
Communication is such as large part of all our projects at Maldaba. Whether it’s understanding our clients requirements, communicating the technical implications of solutions to non-technical people, ensuring staff execute requirements correctly, and explaining to a range of stakeholders the progress and success (and benefits) of our work, it all comes down to having a clear understanding of both the topic and the audience. Guiding other through a similar process helps us refine our skills and is a great touch-point to ensure we’re communicating as effectively as possible (plus it’s a lot of fun!)
The presentation is now live on Maldaba;’s YouTube channel. Watch it here:
You can see what both Professor Weiss, and Min both thought about Maldaba in more detail, here: