Actor Alan Alda presented the PBS program Scientific American Frontiers from 1990 to 2005. In this book, he goes back over his initial difficulty interacting with the scientists he was interviewing and how he overcame it. Scientists tend to use jargon and rehearsed speeches to communicate, which creates a barrier between them and the lay public. Alda used tools from his improv background to connect with the scientists and help them become understandable and relatable to the general public. In this book, Alda and his friends describe their journey to help scientists become better communicators. One of the key points discussed is the importance of empathy: “A deep awareness of the other person is at the heart of good communication.” As a scientist myself, I know the difficulty of sharing the work I am doing with my grandma, my neighbor, or my bus driver. I appreciated Alda's advice to tell a story, but also to try to connect with your interlocutor by using examples the person can relate to, reading their reactions, and being present and fully aware of them in order to best deliver your message. This book gave me a lot to think about, and I like how it helps me connect with people in my day-to-day life, in addition to being a better science communicator.
Book Review| May 01 2019
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.By Alan Alda.
Random House. (ISBN-13: 978-0812989144). 210 pp. Hardcover, $28.00.
The American Biology Teacher (2019) 81 (5): 380.
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Special Interest. The American Biology Teacher 1 May 2019; 81 (5): 380. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2019.81.5.380
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