The power of stories: two #ESA2017 events on Wednesday (8/9/2017)

Science is a part of everyone’s life and everyone has a story. The best available science tells us that for most audiences, stories are more interesting, understandable, convincing, and memorable than evidence‐focused communications. Yet scientists are unfamiliar with this literature and rarely share their work using a narrative style. Two events at #ESA2017 offer exposure to and practice with telling your own stories! The first is a discussion and social and the second is a live show. Read on for more details!

Storytelling Social for Science Communication
Wednesday, 8/9, 11:30 am-1:15 pm
OCC D140

ESA meeting 2013 - Minneapolis, MN

 Erin Barker and Shane Hanlon of the Story Collider will lead a discussion about telling your science story. This discussion will explore how to develop and tell personal stories about science with intellectual honesty and ethical consideration. Erin and Shane will present research on storytelling and narrative persuasion, and highlight the value of personal stories in science. Participants will learn how to find, develop, and perform their own deeply human stories of science.  Click to view in program.

Springer Nature Storytellers at ESA: Sips, Snacks, and Stories about Ecology
Wednesday, 8/9 – doors open at 6:30 pm and the show runs from 7:00-9:00 pm
OCC room B116


RSVP here (required); each RSVP includes one free drink!

Join Springer Nature, our partners at The Story Collider and the ESA Science Communication Section for a fun evening of sips, snacks and true, personal ecology stories told by researchers themselves. Inspirational, captivating, enlightening and certainly entertaining, you will have the opportunity to hear about and connect with the experiences of those on the front lines of ecological discovery.

Featuring: Karin BodewitsKirsten Grorud-ColvertLaura MeyersonRicardo Rozzi, and Elisa Schaum

Images: Impact Media Lab (Sips, Snacks & Stories); BGMerkle (Storytelling Social)

Prepping for #ESA 2017? Handy tips & links re social media #scicomm (tips, ESA policies, plus ok/not ok icons)

Twitter OK

We thought we’d share a couple of handy notes re social media #scicomm at #ESA2017 next week, starting with the ESA social media policy for this year’s conference. The official hashtag is #ESA2017). Use #ESASciComm if you’re joining/tracking along with the SciComm Section.

#ESA2017 Social Media Policy Highlights:

  • NO photo, video, or audio recordings during scientific sessions (talks and posters) unless you are a registered journalist. Sketching is an approved alternative.
  • Photography is allowed at social events, in public areas, and at plenary sessions.
  • Social media is opt-out. Scroll to the bottom of this post for handy icons you can use to indicate whether you’re okay with folks discussing your slides or poster on social media.

Keep reading for details and tips on these policies.

Want to have visuals for your tweets, but feeling stymied by the no-photos policy? Try sketching.

ESA confirmed a couple of years ago that sketchnotes are a preferred alternative.

Social media is awash with visual notes from other science conferences. Many of these sketches were inspired by an American Fisheries Society Fisheries magazine article penned by  Natalie Sopinka (@phishdoc). Natalie’s article succinctly distills several science illustrators’ advice for making meaningful and satisfying sketchnotes.

Want more details? See this post we published jointly with ESA’s EcoTone blog during the 2015 conference. For sketching tips, open the post and search for “Try it yourself.”

Social/new media (Twitter, Facebook and others) is op-out.

That means “the default assumption is to allow open discussion of ESA presentations on social/new media.” If you do not want people discussing/live-tweeting, etc., your talk or poster, ESA recommends you include opt-out icons on every slide or on the poster somewhere visible. 

Here are a few opt-in and opt-out icons we’ve found or created. You’re welcome to use them. Click on individual images to download and use them for your presentation and/or individual slides. Note that the most likely platform people will be using is Twitter, so if you’re space constrained, you may opt to use just the Twitter icons.

#ESA2017 SciComm activities (a long list)

ESA_logo2017_section logo.jpg

Of course, the SciComm Section is hosting sessions!

We have 2 workshops, 2 storytelling sessions, 3 mixers, a business meeting/meet-up, and #SketchYourScience all lined up!

We’re especially excited about the following:

If you’re looking for even more SciComm at the conference, quite a few sessions caught our attention.

SciComm-related sessions are listed on our website, here, according to type: Social/Business, Workshops, Ignites, Special Sessions, Symposia, and Talks.

Image credits: Impact Media Lab (Improve; Branding; Sips, Snacks & Stories); Bethann Garramon Merkle (Storytelling Social; Business Meeting; Ask-A-Pro)

IMPROV Your Science: A, #ESA2017 Workshop Building Skills for Effective Communication (SS-3, 8/7)

Start the Annual Meeting off right and join us for a fun and interactive session. Our workshop will focus on building and practicing skills to strengthen public speaking, adaptability, listening, and teamwork. We will provide participants with tools to improve all forms of oral communication, from conference presentations and public lectures to meetings with policymakers and journalists.

Improv graphic

Why Improvisation?

Scientists are passionate people eager to share their knowledge with the world. However, the enthusiasm can get lost in translation, and scientists become disconnected with the very audiences they are working to engage with. Practicing improvisation (improv) can help scientists talk about their research more naturally, become more open and direct in their communications, and effectively connect with their audiences. Improv greatly enhances communication skills as it focuses on listening, being present in the moment, adaptability, and engaging with your audience.

Lots of scientists are taking initiative to get SciComm training, including enrolling in improv classes (also check out the improv groups in your local area). There are many resources out there, which requires you to find your own best fit. Improv may or may not be right for you, but it is worth the try! It’s merely one of many creative ways to step out of your comfort zone and tap into your strongest, most authentic voice.

improv in paradise_2.png

About the workshop leaders: Dr. Annaliese Hettinger is a postdoctoral fellow at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and current ESA SciComm Section Secretary. Beth Lenz is a PhD candidate at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology and is an instructor/performer with Improv in Paradise based in Honolulu, HI.

Image credits: Workshop icon by Impact Media Lab; “Improv in Paradise” logo courtesy of Imrov in Paradise. 





ESA SciComm Section officer nominations extended through annual business meeting! Nominate yourself today!

Invitation: Raise your hand, sign up, and contribute your vision to ESA SciComm for 2017-2018!

Nominations for Chairperson-elect and Secretary are open and have been extended until August 8, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

Image by Stephanie Gonot via GIFY (

If you are a member of the ESA SciComm Section* we welcome your self-nomination!

Please use this Google Form to submit nominations (of yourself or others).

Detailed officer descriptions are available in the nomination form and in the section bylaws.


*Membership in the SciComm Section entails current paid membership in ESA plus current paid membership in the SciComm Section. This is an option you choose as you pay for renewal or new membership.

Volunteers needed for Happy Hour “Ask a SciComm Pro” sessions at our booth during #ESA2017

One of the main requests members made in the 2015 section planning survey was networking and mentorship support and opportunities.

We’re looking for volunteers willing to be at our booth to help us meet these objectives.

Volunteers will respond to career and career-transition questions and generally represent the diversity of possible SciComm careers already pursued by ESA members.

Section officers will be present to answer questions about the section itself.

Please contact us directly if you are willing to volunteer for one or more of these sessions. And if you have ideas and suggestions, please let us know!

“Ask a SciComm Pro” Anticipated Schedule*
4-6 pm in the exhibit hall, during poster sessions & happy hour

  • Monday, 8/7: Ask a Visual SciComm Pro
    Filmmakers, photographers, designers & illustrators
  • Tuesday, 8/8: Ask an Outreach/Ed SciComm Pro
    Educators, nonprofit outreach pros & tenure-track faculty who do lots of SciComm
  • Wednesday, 8/9: Ask a Writing/Storytelling SciComm Pro
    Journalists, press officers & PIOs, etc.

*If you have innovative SciComm experience (e.g., drama, dance, children’s books, etc.), we welcome you, too! Please volunteer for the happy hour that seems most relevant to you.