Writing for Knowledge Translation
A Self-Coaching Guide for Researchers and Technical Experts Who Want to Build Positive Relationships with Government Funders, Industry Partners, and Investors
- What is knowledge translation (KT)?
- What role does communication play in KT?
- What are the barriers to effective communication for KT?
Basic Questions to Guide Your Writing Process
- How can you identify with your audience?
- How can you capture your audience's attention?
- How can you speak your audience's language?
- How can you make it easy for your audience to follow complex ideas?
- How can you leverage the power of storytelling?
- How can you simplify your communication style?
- How can you communicate your ideas through visuals?
Question Guides for Specific Kinds of Communication
- How do you write a blog post?
- How do you write a white paper?
- How do you write web content?
- How do you write a grant application?
- How do you create a pitch deck?
Where to Find Further Help
Find the video transcript here
Hi, my name is Dawn, and I’m a former academic writer.
I started my career as a professor, so the first pieces of professional writing I created were articles for academic journals publishing research on pre-twentieth-century women’s literature. Now, as a business writer and writing coach, I collaborate on many different types of writing, most of which are as far removed from a scholarly essay as a giraffe is from a polar bear.
As I’ve transitioned from academic writing to business writing, I’ve had to retrain my brain. I've had to learn how to communicate simply, concisely, and visually. I’ve also had to shift my focus from analyzing my subject to impacting my audience. Because at the end of the day, business writing can be considered effective only if it produces results.
Much of the work I do contributes to the set of activities broadly categorized as “knowledge translation”, or KT. My role in KT is to help experts transmute their research findings into communication that non-experts can readily understand and get excited about.
On a given day, I could be working on web copy, an eLearning course, a white paper, a series of blog posts, a strategic plan, a report, or a pitch deck. Whatever form the communication takes, the task is always the same: to convey complex ideas as simply as possible, without oversimplifying them, or dumbing them down.
As I create communication products to aid in knowledge translation, I follow a process of inquiry that gives me critical perspective on the task at hand. I ask myself a series of questions to help me understand, identify with, and serve the target audience.
Over the years, I’ve used these same questions in training and coaching sessions with researchers, engineers, software developers, and other technical experts. By changing the questions they ask during the writing process, these clients have developed the ability to translate specialized knowledge into a wide variety of forms.
Psychologist Dr. Marilee Adams is the author of a best-selling book called Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. She claims that the questions we ask determine our actions and thus the outcomes we experience. That’s certainly the case when it comes to writing for knowledge translation. Skillful, thorough questioning enables you to tune into your audience and focus on your practical, impact-oriented goals.
A question-driven, analytical process beats a template every time. Yes, it’s tempting to think that templates can streamline writing, but often they just complicate matters. No two audiences are alike, no two communication situations are alike, and the message you want to share is unique too. Guided inquiry, not cookie-cutter guidelines, is the secret to expressing that message in a way that will truly connect with your target audience and produce the results you’re looking for.
This Self-Coaching Guide will introduce you to some of the fundamental questions my clients have used to adapt their academic writing skills to the important work of knowledge translation.
Please reach out to me with your questions. The best way to contact me these days is through email. I’d love to connect with you and hear how you’re tackling your knowledge translation challenges.
Puzzled as to what KT really stands for, or wondering how to get beyond theoretical frameworks to practical actions? This section is for you.
If you already have a handle on what KT involves, then you may want to skip to the “getting down to brass tacks” sections below.
What is knowledge translation?
Knowledge translation (KT) is a theoretical construct describing the mechanisms through which research makes an impact on the world outside the academy.
KT is not a one-way process. It’s not simply a matter of researchers broadcasting their findings from the lab to the street. Rather, it requires collaborative effort that breaks down the walls of the ivory tower.
A thoughtfully-designed KT framework fosters interaction between researchers and the people who could use or benefit from their knowledge. For example, in a healthcare context, a KT strategy might connect cancer researchers with cancer doctors and patients. These knowledge-users might help inform research agendas, participate in research studies, help communicate research results, and apply the research findings.
Given the multifaceted nature of KT, some people prefer the term KTE, which stands for “knowledge transfer and exchange.” This acronym recognizes the dynamic system required to facilitate the kind of academic inquiry that makes a practical impact.
Because KT is such a complex concept, much academic ink has been spilled on trying to define it, and diagram it, precisely. Much of this discussion has focused on big-picture issues associated with KT strategy and KT planning. This is important work because effective KT requires robust networks that enable knowledge to flow multi-directionally, along multiple channels.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research was one of the first organizations to use the term “knowledge translation,” and its four-phase model of KT has been influential.
An emphasis on high-level, strategic thinking can, however, leave the individual researcher feeling unequipped to play their part. As an academic or subject matter expert, you are on the front lines of KT. You need practical advice for communicating with the nonexpert audiences you’re trying to reach.
This Self-Coaching Guide will help you navigate the underdefined terrain between KT theory and KT in day-to-day practice as you engage with the nonexpert audiences you want to impact.
What role does communication play in knowledge translation?
Communication is the act of sharing information, ideas, and feelings. As we relate to one another, human to human, we do so with our whole selves, not just our rational selves.
This is a critical principle to remember when you’re engaged in knowledge translation. Sadly, it’s also a principle that often gets overlooked.
In our zeal to preserve accuracy and stick within the comfort zone of academic jargon, we can forget that communication is a human exchange, not an impersonal bulletin from one node on the KT network to another.
Thoughtful KT communication enables the smooth flow of information, ideas, and feelings so that knowledge-producers and knowledge-users can connect in ways that spark curiosity and build trust.
Without those two emotional ingredients—curiosity and trust—knowledge may get “translated,” but it’s unlikely to register with non-experts in ways that encourage them to change their thinking or their behaviour.
Communication humanizes, and thus actualizes, knowledge translation. It’s the missing link without which the most detailed KT plan fails. And it’s an activity through which you, as an individual researcher or expert, can make an immediate difference to the population you want your research to serve.
Communication humanizes, and thus actualizes, knowledge translation.
What are the barriers to effective communication for knowledge translation?
Lack of communication skill is NOT the leading barrier to knowledge translation.
As a researcher or technical expert, you’ve already developed significant communication skills. You’re able to share your knowledge with your peers through written articles and conference presentations. You may also have experience as a teacher, which means you’ve learned how to communicate your knowledge to students of your discipline.
The number one barrier to effective KT communication is mindset. To communicate effectively with audiences outside the academy requires a radical shift in perspective.
You must learn to communicate with a bias for impact. Rather than focusing on your subject, you must keep your eye on the result you want your communication to create.
Communicating with a bias for impact means putting communication outcomes first, above analysis-to-the nth-degree or even comprehensive topic coverage. This requires you to pay careful attention to your audience—because you need their cooperation. To make an impact, you rely on your audience to act on the knowledge you share.
To communicate effectively for KT, then, you must shift your focus from your subject matter to the human subjects receiving your communication. This means changing the way you approach writing by integrating a process of inquiry centered on your target audience and their concerns.
The following questions will help you tackle a wide range of KT writing tasks with a bias for impact. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with this general inquiry process. Check out the Question Guides for Specific Kinds of Communication in the section below.
How can you identify with your audience?
The concept of knowledge translation acknowledges the gap that separates experts from non-experts. Those “in the know” possess not only information or concepts but possibly also status, economic privilege, or other social advantages (such as access to the latest medical treatments). Those without the specialized knowledge may have mixed emotions as they consider the holders of knowledge. They may feel envious, resentful, frustrated, or just plain disinterested.
Persuasive communication bridges the rift between experts and non-experts. Given that the gap has emotional dimensions to it, explanation alone won’t do the job, no matter how simply or clearly concepts are presented.
The key to closing the gap between yourself and a non-expert audience is to imagine yourself standing on their side of the divide. What is it like to see what they’re seeing, experience what they’re experiencing, and feel emotionally what they’re feeling?
Literary scholar Kenneth Burke considered “identification” to form the foundation of persuasion. And he took the act of identifying well beyond mere empathy. In his 1969 work (still cited by scholars today), he states: “you persuade or communicate with a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his.”
How can you relate to your audience so intimately that you can mirror their feelings and every other aspect of their being? If you’re naturally intuitive, that helps. But you can also develop deep insight into your audience by asking a few strategic questions.
Here are some of the most valuable questions you can start with:
• What keeps your audience up at night?
• What is your audience’s greatest wish or ambition?
• What are your audience’s immediate priorities, personally and professionally?
• How much does your audience know about your field of expertise?
• How much do they know about the specific research you’re describing?
• What makes your audience feel nervous or uncomfortable?
• How does your audience feel about learning new things? About change?
• What situations, experience, and knowledge are familiar to your audience from the day-to-day professional or personal life?
How can you capture your audience’s attention?
The human brain can receive so much data per second that the only way we stay sane is by filtering out most of it. For example, as you read this Self-Coaching Guide, you’re able to concentrate on the words in front of you by filtering out ambient noise, visual distractions, and irrelevant mental chatter.
To make it through your audience’s sensory filters, you must show them, at the beginning of your writing, something they value. You must intentionally “hook” your audience by appealing to their self-interest.
This means crafting titles that function as eye-catching headlines. It also means making a great first impression with a compelling opening paragraph or section.
Crafting enticing titles
When you’re writing for an academic publication, your title is the least of your worries. So long as it clearly describes the article’s content, you know that other researchers will be able to track it down through a database search, and you’re good to go. However, when you’re writing for nonexperts, your title must attract their interest. It must give them a reason to read.
Here are some questions to help you create enticing titles:
• What is the main point you want readers to take from your writing?
• What practical benefit or solution are you offering?
• How can you appeal to the reader’s emotions? For example, can you use your title to awaken curiosity or needle anxiety about a problem?
• How does your content apply to the specific context of your audience (e.g., profession, geographic region, industrial sector)?
• What keywords are important to your audience? How can you feature those in your title?
Writing compelling openings
In academic writing, your introduction provides background your reader needs to understand the new ideas you’re presenting. It also gives them an overview of your argument, serving as a kind of roadmap for them to follow as they navigate the writing. So long as it fulfills these two practical functions, it can do so in a pedestrian way.
In contrast, when you’re writing for KT, your introduction must sizzle. It must intrigue the reader and motivate them to keep reading. Like an academic introduction, it should orient the reader to your thinking process and provide a preview of what’s to come. But it can’t afford to be boring.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you frame up the openings to your KT writing:
• Why should your audience care about your subject?
• What practical benefits will the audience reap from your writing?
• Is there a way to “hook” your audience with a story or example related to your topic?
• How will your audience be changed by reading your writing?
• What main points should your audience expect to learn about?
• If your writing were a movie, what would you include in the trailer?
How can you speak your audience’s language?
Imagine you’re about to travel to Spain, a country you’ve never visited. You want to learn Spanish, quickly. You check out in-person language classes in your area and discover that you have choices: you can study with a native English speaker who has learned Spanish at an English-speaking university, or you can study with a native Spanish speaker who grew up in Spain and speaks only Spanish in class.
Most people would choose the second option. You want to learn “real Spanish” so you can blend in with Spaniards you meet and get to know them. This may require learning words and idioms the native English speaker may not have gained through textbook learning (such as cuss words and phrases from Spanish pop culture).
Applying the same kind of reasoning, when you want to learn the language a non-expert audience speaks, immerse yourself in their “real language.” Avoid relying on untested assumptions or second-hand knowledge.
Try asking yourself questions such as these:
• What technical terms or jargon do members of the audience use when communicating with one another?
• What publications (print and online) does the audience read?
• What concepts, themes, and trends are important in current discussions among the audience?
• Who are the influencers in the audience? What topics do they focus on? What buzzwords or sayings are they known for?
• What writing style does the audience tend to use when they’re writing?
How can you make it easy for your audience to follow complex ideas?
Two words: chunking and labelling.
Chunking is the practice of breaking a long passage of text into short, easy-to-digest passages. Ideally, it also involves using graphical cues to distinguish between sections. For example, you can group content using white space around short paragraphs, horizontal rules (lines), bulleted lists, icons, tables, or shaded backgrounds.
Labelling means giving each “chunk” of content a caption to summarize it. Make liberal use of headings and subheadings, and label each table or other visual you include.
As you consider how to divide your content, remember that non-expert readers, especially those in the business world, tend to be more impatient than academic readers. Rarely do they actually read, in fact. It’s more accurate to describe their way of interacting with writing as skimming.
It’s your job, therefore, to make it as easy as possible for busy readers to skim your writing and extract the most important ideas.
Here some questions to help you decide how to best apply chunking and labeling to your content:
• What are the main ideas in your writing? How can you make them easy for readers to spot?
• Where do you shift from one topic to the next? Would a subheading help readers with the transition?
• Where do you have a paragraph running to more than about seven lines? How might you subdivide that?
• What lists within paragraphs can you group into bulleted or numbered lists? (Look for lists of examples, conditions, steps, benefits, risk factors, etc.)
• What comparisons or contrasts might you present in a table rather than a paragraph?
• What data might you present in a chart rather than through words?
• What elements of graphic design can you use to help the reader distinguish different groups of content? Are there opportunities to use horizontal rules, colored shapes, or icons?
How can you leverage the power of storytelling?
Professor Jonathan Gottschall has appropriately dubbed humankind a “storytelling animal.” Neurologically, our brains are hardwired to make us peculiarly receptive to data that comes at us in the form of narrative.
Stories invest description with emotional power, and that makes us more likely to pay attention to them and embed them in our long-term memory. Stories can also produce visceral effects in an audience. When we enter imaginatively into the world of story, our brain behaves as if we were encountering conditions, events, and peoples in real life. For instance, if we read about a hero being chased by a criminal, we will probably find our heart beating faster and our palms sweating as our body responds to what it perceives as a genuine threat.
Given the kind of influence stories can wield, it makes sense to leverage narrative wherever you can. You don’t have to take a class in creative writing to do this. As a researcher, you can easily access one common story structure, the Discovery Journey.
To present your research as a narrative of discovery, try asking yourself these questions:
• Why did you start the research?
• What did you expect the research to reveal? How has your research journey lived up to or challenged those expectations?
• What have you learned?
• What has surprised you?
• What disappointments have you encountered? How did you overcome them?
• What moment in your research stands out as an “a-ha” moment?
• What excites you most about the potential impact of your research?
• What inspires you to keep researching?
How can you simplify your communication style?
Many researchers wish they could write in a simpler style, but they hold back on editing because they’re worried about oversimplifying their ideas. That’s a legitimate concern. In a world where soundbites and social media snippets pass for “news,” the academy must hold the line on authoritative, evidence-based discourse.
At the same time, if you cling too fiercely to your academic writing habits, then you’ll turn away non-experts, who don’t have the time or patience to sift through dense documentation. The goal, as Einstein is said to have put it, is to make things “as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
To strike the right balance, prune from your sentences every word and syllable that adds bulk without adding value. By decluttering your communication style, you make it easy for people to skim your writing (remember that non-experts don’t read every word). You also create space for using specialized terminology when a simpler word just won’t do.
Ultimately, your aim is to make the reading process as easy as possible—without sacrificing accuracy or flattening multi-dimensional issues into a single dimension. A simple style enables you to convey complex concepts without fatiguing your reader. Because your reader doesn’t have to spend energy wading through unnecessary wordiness, they can put effort into deciphering and interpreting the words and phrases that are new to them.
Compare, for example, the following two sentences. Does Option B really alter the meaning of the thought? Or does it just remove a burden from the reader so they concentrate on important ideas?
Here are some questions to help you decide whether you can afford to simplify a sentence, word, or phrase:
• Where can you replace a noun form of a word with a verb form?
• Where can you substitute a one- or two-syllable word for a multi-syllable word?
• Where can you substitute a word for a phrase?
• Where can you cut “filler,” words or phrases that don’t add real value to a sentence?
• Where can you convert a verb that’s in the passive voice to a verb in the active voice?
How can you communicate your ideas through visuals?
“Writing” no longer signifies using just alphabetic characters to convey ideas. Increasingly, written communication incorporates a range of graphic elements, including photos, diagrams, charts, and infographics.
As a researcher, you already have experience with data visualization (the visual representation of data sets) for expert audiences. To communicate effectively with non-experts, the key is to shift your intention from investigating data to explaining it.
This distinction comes from Scott Berinato, who distinguishes between visualizations that aim to explore a data set and those that aim to declare its meaning. As a researcher, you are used to capturing data in forms that allow you to manipulate it and examine it from various angles. But when you’re communicating for KT, your goal is to present data visually in a form that’s easy for non-experts to understand.
The challenge is to shape your visualization so that the data tells a clear story, not many possible stories. A non-expert reader doesn’t have the interest or ability to identify the story without your help. They need guidance—and if you don’t provide it, they could either throw up their hands in frustration or derive a mistaken meaning of their own.
Non-experts don’t have the interest or ability to explore data—they need you to declare a clear message.
To create visuals that convey a clear message, here are some questions to ask:
• What is the purpose of the visual?
• What data story do you want to convey?
• What’s the main message you want your audience to take from the visual?
• How familiar is your audience with the form of visual you’re using? Do they know how to “read” it?
• How clearly have you labeled the visual?
• How could you simplify the data and the way you’re representing it visually? How could you free up more white space on your page or slide?
Question Guides for Specific Kinds of Communication
Wondering about how to approach a kind of communication that’s not listed below? Check out the Clarity Studio blog for more genre-specific tips.
How do you write a blog post?
Start by establishing your audience and purpose, not your topic.
Three critical questions will get you started:
• Whom do you want to reach?
• Why do you want to reach them?
• What change in attitude or behaviour are you trying to influence?
Until you’ve answered these foundational questions, it’s premature to start brainstorming topics, deciding on the target word count, or thinking about how you’ll promote the blog on social media.
Once you’re clear on your intentions, then you can start considering how you’ll structure and title your blog. Keep in mind that many readers (probably about 80% of them) will get no further than your headline and the visual that accompanies your post. The way you “package” your post matters as much as the content you include in it.
If you’re new to blog writing, then you may find it easiest to work with one of a few familiar formats, such as:
- How-to article
- Listicle (list article)
- Why article
- Position article (taking a stance on a controversial topic)
- Myth-busting article
- FAQ article
- Newsworthy article (linking the blog topic to a current event)
- Comparison article
Google’s algorithms tend to favour longer blog posts, so aim for a word count in the range of 1,200 to 2,500 words.
Keep your writing style informal. A casual, conversational tone will encourage readers to connect with you (online or offline) to discuss the ideas you’ve shared.
How do you write a white paper?
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the first step is to determine your audience and purpose. Until you’re clear on those two matters, it’s no sense thinking about potential topics, page length, or graphic design elements.
Unlike research reports, which tend to target a broad audience, white papers for non-experts require a laser-like focus on the intended readers and their concerns. A white paper for non-experts should be practical, solution-focused document, NOT an overview of your research or area of expertise.
The goal of your white paper should be to explore a specific problem and point the audience toward a viable solution. The problem should be urgent and significant so that it grabs the audience’s attention. At the same time, it should be narrowly defined so that you can explore it and offer your solution within the scope of about 5 to 10 pages, including graphics.
Here are some questions to help you convey your research using this problem-to-solution structure:
• What practical problem is urgent and significant for your target audience?
• What specific aspect of the problem can you zero in on so you can address it within the scope of 5 to 10 pages?
• How can you describe the problem in terms of its impact on the audience?
• Why should your audience care about solving the problem?
• How will the audience benefit from solving the problem?
• Why is your solution the best option?
A white paper requires sustained attention, so be sure to pull out the graphic design stops. Think about how you can present your thoughts through eye-catching visuals as well as through words. Besides including data visualizations, consider adding visual interest through your page layouts through graphic elements such as colour, icons, stock photos, focus boxes, sidebars, block quotes, and conceptual diagrams.
How do you write web content?
The best thing you can do as you approach the challenge of writing web content is to put everything you’ve learned about “writing” out of your mind. Engaging web copy has more in common with a casual conversation than with grammatically correct, perfectly punctuated written communication.
Picture yourself addressing your ideal audience in a friendly meeting, maybe one you’re having over a cup of coffee. The key is to picture that audience in as much detail as possible, considering them as whole people, not just representations of a technical problem.
It’s also important to imagine your audience interacting with your website. Websites take visitors on a journey, from click to click to click, guiding them ever deeper into the site and closer toward direct engagement with you or your organization.
Take the time to learn all you can about your target audience and their reasons for checking out your site. Then create individualized pathways to guide them from your home page to the decision to click the button or link that puts them in direct contact with you.
Yes, this requires a lot of research. But that’s your strong suit! Dig into your audience with the same thoroughness you use in the lab or the library. Explore their fears, aspirations, and practical goals. Learn what makes them tick and what language will intrigue them and encourage them to stay on your site. The more you learn about the web visitors you want to attract, the better you’ll be able to tailor your content to them and direct their online journey.
Here are some critical questions to ask about your web audience:
• Why are they visiting your website?
• How did they get there?
• What are they hoping to achieve by visiting your site?
• How aware are they of the problem or issue your site addresses?
• How do they feel about it?
• What have they tried so far to solve the problem or issue?
• What benefits will they gain by engaging with you?
• How do you want to engage with them directly? What path through your site will result in that engagement?
Once you’ve analyzed your audience in depth, then you’re ready to create a site structure and start drafting content. And redraft, and redraft. Web writing requires an ultra-lean style. Be prepared to cut your first draft by 25 to 50% until you’re able to communicate your key messages in as few words as possible. (Hint: to reduce your word count, increase your use of visuals.)
How do you write a grant application?
The key word to keep in mind is alignment. When crafting a grant application, your chief task is to show how well-aligned your research is with the strategic objectives of the granting organization.
Apply the What’s In It for Me (WIIFM) principle to the people who will be reviewing your application. Consider how supporting your grant can help them achieve their professional and personal goals.
Ask yourself questions such as these:
• Why does the grant exist? What is its mandate?
• What key words does the granting organization use? How can you echo those in your application?
• Who will review your application? What proportion of the review panel will be made up of people with expertise in your research field?
• How can you connect personally with the granting organization to learn more about the review process and the reviewers?
• What known information can you use as a platform to build on to explain your research?
• How can you chunk and label information to make your application easy to skim?
Then put into practice, rigorously, the skills you’ve developed in chunking and labeling and creating a simple writing style. While some members of the review panel may have expertise in your area, it’s likely that at least some of them won’t have a background in your discipline. So you’ll need to provide short, clear explanations of your research and its value (that is, its strategic value to help the granting organization achieve its goals).
That can be challenging to achieve, especially if you must work within a tight word count. A helpful principle to keep in mind is to work from known information to the unknown.
Many researchers assume that the way to bring nonexperts up to speed on a topic is to start by introducing key terms and then defining them. This teaching approach is, however, backwards.
The human brain is wired in such a way that we can acquire new information only by connecting it to information we already know. So instead of starting with the unknown (the foreign language of technical terminology), start with something your audience knows and build from there. You might do this by creating a metaphor that connects with their everyday life, by introducing a simple term and then refining it, or by stating a basic principle your audience already understands and uses.
The more innovative your research is, the more critical it is to follow the known-to-unknown structure. Similarly, the more complex your ideas are, the simpler your language needs to be. Effective communication for KT embraces these paradoxes and makes them the foundation of any communication project.
How do you create a pitch deck?
A persuasive pitch deck presents a compelling argument for the commercial, or market, value of your research. In industry circles, you’ll hear this argument referred to as “the business case.”
This term is helpful because it puts the communication challenge into a judicial framework. As you develop your pitch deck, picture yourself as a lawyer making a case before a jury. To win your case, you must deliver compelling facts (hard evidence), and you must infuse those facts with emotion.
The kind of evidence that will speak to your jury/audience may not be the kind of evidence that comes first to your mind. As a researcher or expert in your field, your first instinct might be to argue for the value of your research based on its ability to expand the existing knowledge base. But for a jury of potential partners from government or industry won’t likely find that rationale convincing. They’ll be interested in the practical impact your research will make and the commercial value it will deliver.
The jury judging your business case is probably not made up of your peers. Instead, it likely comprises people who are focused on practical, measurable outcomes, including financial outcomes. Your task, then, is to craft a watertight, evidence-based argument showing why and how your research will get them the return on investment (ROI) they’re looking for.
Of course, thinking like a lawyer, you’ll also need to present this factual argument with some emotional force. Winning pitch decks tend to rely heavily on story. They take the audience on a journey that enables them to identify with a painful problem and envision a bright, prosperous future where the problem has been solved, thanks to their foresight.
As you create the text and visuals for a pitch deck, consider how you can showcase facts while weaving data into an emotionally-engaging narrative.
Here are some key questions to ask:
• How can you “hook” your audience in your introduction? (How can you avoid starting with the standard “Hello, my name is…?)
• How can you present your research as a story of discovery?
• How can you present the research problem as a practical problem your audience can easily relate to?
• Which aspects of your research can you safely omit without affecting the business case? Which aspects should you omit because they could distract the audience from the core business case?
• What evidence do you have to show the potential impact of your research in terms your audience will value (the ROI)?
• What data do you show to support assumptions you’ve made about impact (e.g., market size, advantages over competitors, rate of user uptake, etc.)?
• How can you create slide headlines that clearly convey your message? (Hint: sentence headlines can help.)
• How can you free up more white space on your slides? How can you simplify data visualizations so they’re suitable for viewing onscreen?
Of course, to blend logic and feeling together in this way requires in-depth knowledge of your audience. The more you know about your jury, the more likely you’ll be able to sway them to your side.
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 Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (2016). About Us. https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/29418.html
 Adams, M. (2015). Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Berett-Koehler Publishers.
 Andres, L. (1992). Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification: An essential for business communication. The Bulletin, pp. 53-56.
 Gottschall, J. (2013). The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Boston: Mariner Books.
 Berinato, S. (2016). Visualizations that really work. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/06/visualizations-that-really-work