Do you ever wonder how can you improve your way of communicating science, either to a fellow scientist or to your family and friends? The answer could be as simple as telling a story. Storytelling is a powerful tool that has been used for some time now, by science communicators and pretty much everyone else, including you. Daily conversations, reading bedtime stories, and television programs are just a few examples that can include storytelling.
Why should you use it?
According to a recent article, a narrative has a specific structure: there is a timetable and a setting in which events take place, and the characters are involved in a cause-and-effect relationship. The must-have elements are: characters, perspective, imagery, and language. The content of each narrative can vary according to the intended message, making narratives very versatile.
When telling a story, the narrative can be very engaging for the listener, easy to comprehend, and therefore more appealing, even for a non-scientific audience. A narrative also seems to be easier to recall and to require a shorter amount of time to read when compared to expository text. In fact, narrative cognition can be considered as the default mode of human thought, providing the structure to understand real events thereby delivering the basis for our memory. This system is considered a product of evolution that provided us with the possibility of simulating possible outcomes, including those in social interactions.
Narratives also work for displaying data, making them more exciting and memorable. By doing so, narratives can help visualize data that otherwise would be invisible. For example, you can use a map to show how the Great Plague spread along Europe, representing its evolution in the course of time.
Narratives can also be used as an evaluation method in citizen science projects. How? By allowing the participants to narrate their experiences in the project. As such, they can reveal context-based factors and impressions that otherwise could have gone missing in a simple questionnaire. In addition, narratives can expose a person to new points of view, which allows questioning and reflecting on what they previously knew, possibly leading to behavioral improvements.
Bring your science, let us develop a (hi)story
Developing an effective storytelling resource with scientific content can be challenging, particularly if the target audience is the general public. This is where Scite comes in: we can help developing your own scientific story. Bring us your science and we will help you telling a story and gaining a position in the history of science communication. Perhaps the real hero in the story is you. If you are looking for acquiring expertise in storytelling, please let us know. Scite® workshops have helped science students preparing a narrative for their communications using storytelling tools.