6 Tips on How to Effectively Communicate Scientific Reports

Do you need help in communicating complex ideas and data to a wider audience? Check out our top tips.

We recently worked with Mercator Ocean to highlight key facts and findings of the Ocean State Report – an annual publication of the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). It provides a comprehensive and state-of-the-art report on the current state, natural variations, and ongoing changes in the global ocean and European regional seas.

Our communication professionals helped to write and illustrate the report summary, as well as to develop a video to inform the report’s core messages. We also produced clear and concise Twitter messages from the report together with tailored graphics.

The report has been received widely, well beyond the scientific community and has received a lot of engagement on social media. We provide here some top tips from our experiences on how to communicate complex ideas and data effectively. This also applies to annual reports or any type of big documents for stakeholder communication.

1.      Know Your Audience – Provide a Summary

The Ocean State Report is meant to act as a reference European Union report for the scientific community, international and national bodies, and the general public. The report itself contains satellite data, models, reanalyses, and in situ measurements. We worked with Mercator Ocean to extract the key findings in a report summary that gives a clearer overview for non-technical audiences. We considered a diverse audience ranging from industry, potential service users of Copernicus data, as well as policymakers and media.

2.      Tell A Story – Show Specific Examples

From a lot of complex tables, charts, and diagrams in the scientific report, we wanted to translate a clear narrative to share key information from events and case studies. In the report summary we chose to focus on the relationship between humanity and the ocean, showing examples how Copernicus data are being used to provide information to help service providers, public authorities and other international organisations improve the quality of life for the citizens of Europe. Defining the storyline right from the beginning allowed out team to create a layout of the report, which topics were going to be addressed, where and in what graphs, illustrations etc. of. This initial wireframe was a key to focus the creation of the summary on the storyline and its message and helped make the process much clearer and faster.

3.      Use Clear Messaging – Avoid Jargon!

We used short, attractive headings to help separate out key ideas and themes in the summary report. From sustainable development and the ocean, to the major impacts of climate change, we use clear language while explaining some complex topics such as ocean acidification and sea level rise.

4.      Make it visual

We translate complex data and graphics into striking visuals, which help tell the story of how Copernicus marine data are essential to equip us with the tools to monitor our changing ocean and the impact of climate change, as well as how this translates into economic value. We use these visuals in our social media content to help these key facts and findings stand out.

5.      Make it informative

By extracting core details from the Ocean State Report, we included an information box containing key facts and figures, together with the topical link to icons for each of the WMO Climate Indicators and UN Sustainable Development Goals. We were also careful to include relevant sources and links to data in key graphics.

6.      Develop a Common Hashtag (for social media)

We established the hashtag #OceanStateReport on Twitter when we specifically refer to the report and summary. We also used this hashtag in all of our social media graphics. In addition, use the WMO hashtag #OceanMonitoringIndicators and a number of common hashtags, which help enhance our reach and engagement #ourocean #globalocean #changingclimate.

The final report has greatly benefitted from our approach by generating a professional looking and well written report in less time and with less effort than is usually required for this type of communication product. Our customers certainly enjoyed the experience of having experienced the fruition of this report within just two months. Take a look and judge for yourself if the final outcome also appeals to you.

We hope these tips will help you make your reports stand out with less effort and more impact. If you are still unsure then feel free to reach out to us.

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