Special Session

Special Session (Tuesday, July 10 — 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM)

An Introduction to Communicating to Non-Specialist Audiences (Grand Ballroom)

Facilitator: Elizabeth Bojsza (Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science)

This interactive session introduces participants to general principles in how to craft short, clear, conversational statements, intelligible to nonspecialists, about what you do and why it matters. The session consists of an interactive presentation and discussion on interpreting technical material using examples and analogies to illuminate unfamiliar concepts to your audience. The plenary will address problems and solutions in public interactions as well as peer-to-peer communication. Participants will be actively engaged in improvisation exercises and will practice clarity in speaking to non-specialists about their work.

During his 11 years hosting the PBS television series Scientific American Frontiers, Alan Alda realized that the conversational approach he took in interviewing scientists led to a surprisingly spontaneous and vivid presentation of their work. Using improvisational techniques he had learned in 50 years of acting on stage on on-screen, Alda devised The Alda Method™. Since 2009, the Alda Center has used this training methodology to improve the communication skills of thousands of scientists and health professionals throughout the world.

Special Session (Wednesday, July 11 — 8:35 AM – 10:00 AM)

MACH Session: Sustaining Change (Grand Ballroom)

Facilitator: Matt Lovell (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology)

The goal of this session is to spend time planning on how teams might prevent a change initiative from stalling (or reinvigorate if it already has stalled).  Change initiatives can make good strides early in the project by the sheer will of a few dedicated leaders, but most change initiatives hit a wall (the operational unit tends to retreat to old habits) 12-24 months after the project kickoff.  We are going to spend some time evaluating our team’s performance to date through the lens of an 8 step change process, and we will spend some time brainstorming how we might reinvigorate our team so that our change initiatives eventually become deeply rooted in the culture of our organization.  As a result of this session, participants will be able to (1) Identify team performance relating to eight parameters of organizational change, (2) Strategize solutions for removing anchors and obstacles to empower broad-based action, and (3) Develop a plan to generate short-term wins distributed across team members.