Thursday, December 3, 2009

How To: Communicate with Food

For your next chemistry-themed party, an idea from BuzzFeed.

Whenever I’m trying to describe something that is new or difficult to understand, I try to relate it to something else that my audience already understands. In my family, one of the best metaphors is food.

In a lot of ways, cooking is similar to lab work. Some experiments require precise timing, while in others the specificity of ingredients (materials) is more important. In both instances, if you want to recreate the final product, you have to take measurements, record each step, and think of variables that could effect the outcome next time (what if I use a different pan or the produce isn’t as fresh?).

But metaphors are not the only way to communicate with food. Sharing meals is a great way to learn to talk about what you do in an informal way. Without the networking pressures of a conference or academic setting, you’ll more freely be yourself, and your passion for your work will be obvious in how you talk about it. (Just be careful not to gesticulate with food on the end of your fork.) Moreover, sharing details over meals gives everyone time to listen and absorb as well as participate in the discussion.

Just a little food for thought for those of you looking for ways to more effectively communicate your ideas.

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