Knowing your audience

Storytelling as a Strategic Tool in Communicating Science

By 09/02/2022

Stories help people to understand complicated concepts and are essential tools in making science more relevant to people’s everyday lives.

But not all stories are created equal.

Research shows that the effectiveness of storytelling is influenced by four factors: the persons conducting the science; the process by which the scientific research is undertaken; the results of the research; and how the results are communicated.

Added to this, we all  ‘hear’ stories very differently. What inspires one person to act might leave his or her neighbour unmoved. We are told stories from a young age, and are all storytellers in our personal if not professional lives. Being a good storyteller relies on understanding the tools of storytelling and making sure that our stories resonate with people’s experiences and values.

Stories are an increasingly popular format for effective communication: the Story Collider, a platform for storytelling, has 157,000 regular listeners to its audio content.

Stories can challenge our normative assumptions about the world: UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) is using speculative storytelling and design as a way of finding new ways to communicate around displacement and the future of the agency’s work.

Storytelling is powerful as a tool for communication, and as a tool for catalysing change. The International Science Council (ISC) in partnership with the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) is hosting a panel on Approaches to Storytelling in Science on Friday February 11th.  Organised as part of its Film Festival celebrating stories about women in science, the panel coincides with the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Interested in hearing more? Click here to view the recording of the webinar.