Video Transcript: If you’re good at what you do, then you have to explain to others what it is that you do. And, the difficult part here is twofold actually. One – is learning how to distill what it is you do into a couple of sentences that’s, two, understandable to a range of different audiences. It’s worth your time to figure out how to do that and then, depending on the person you’re talking to, you’re going to have to adjust what you came up with for the specific audience that you’re addressing.
I’d encourage you to get something down on paper because the feedback is just as valuable as the experience of going through it and writing it all down. More information about this assignment and some examples are in the assignment itself. Are you ready?
The goal of this assignment is to learn how to explain what it is you do to a range of audiences of different technical backgrounds.
Begin with a sentence that anyone in your field working on your specific problem would understand. You can either craft this sentence from scratch, or base it on the title of your thesis (Masters or PhD), a paper you’ve written, or a paper from your research group.
Then rewrite this sentence at least six times in such a way that each successive rewrite is more accessible and understandable to a less and less technical audience. As you progress from more technical to less technical, there are less technical details; there is less about “how” something is done, and more about “what” is done. Of course each rewrite will be more and more general, and although it will admit other possibilities as well, it should still describe what you do.
The difficult part about this assignment is struggling with how to express what it is you work on, without getting bogged down with the specific details of the project or approach (the “how”). For this assignment you do not have to worry about discussing the motivation (i.e. “why” your work is important). The peer reviewer will only look at the series of rewrites; they won’t be able to assess if what you’ve written is correct and complete; only you can do that.
Computational Biology – Protein Sequencing
Material Science – Fuel Cell Technology
WARNING: This video serves as a demonstration of the underlying ideas from this exercise applied to a (then) current MIT graduate student. The video is a little long. While it isn’t necessary to watch this video in order to progress through level 1, it is encouraged.
Find 2-3 people of different backgrounds and show them your titles.
Ask them answer the following questions: