Storytelling for Communication: From J.K. Rowling to The Scientific American
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
Good communication is the key to success – not just in the arts, or economics, or politics, but also in science. The most powerful leaders and effectual teachers, the most productive projects and changes that have swept human history, all owe their successes to effective communication of ideas and ideologies.
Most believe that the ability for good communication develops naturally, over the course of time, and that some people are just ‘better’ communicators than others. While this is true to some extent, it is also true that good communication is a skill that can be taught and learnt.
In this course, students will be exposed to the basics of effective communication through the written word. This focus on writing is important, as it is not only the most common form of communication, but is also usually the first step in most forms of communication. What’s the first thing we do when we have an idea? We jot it down – we write. Even if our final form of communication is a talk, a presentation, or even a movie, we start by writing about it.
Students will begin by exploring the concept of communication in its various forms, and how successful communication consists of ‘telling stories’ – they will learn about different audiences, and how various forms of writing can be tailored for specific purposes. Through discussions and simple, practical writing exercises, they will also be taught the elements of good story-telling. This will involve sessions on how to structure and order their thoughts into a coherent flow, how to edit, how to polish their written pieces into a compelling story, and how to handle feedback and criticism. Finally, students will also learn how different types of writing are important in science. For this, students will conduct a simple science experiment, then explore different ways by which they can convey what they have learnt from the experiment to different types of audiences.