Broader Impacts Defined and Helpful Communication Tips, with Dr. Michael Thompson – Ep #10

What do you think of when you hear the term, “Broader Impacts?” Have you ever received a brief and definitive explanation of the term? To remove all confusion and cut to the heart of what this term means is the Broader Impacts Guy himself, Dr. Michael Thompson. 

Dr. Thompson is currently on the Senior Staff of the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Founding Director of the Broader Impacts in Research organization at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Thompson specializes in Impact Strategy, Professional Faculty Development, Broader Impact Research, Proposal Development, Social Entrepreneurship, and much more.

You don’t want to miss a minute of this episode as Dr. Thompson provides his helpful take on the definition of Broader Impacts and as he reveals some valuable communication tips.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:10] Mark welcomes his guest, Dr. Michael Thompson.
  • [3:00] What is meant by the term, “Broader Impacts.”
  • [5:30] How did Michael get involved with Broader Impacts?
  • [10:30] The scholarly definition of Broader Impacts.
  • [12:00] Michael talks about the progression of his career.
  • [15:30] Tips for scientists who are navigating the course of their career.
  • [21:00] Advice for communicating with audiences who are new to your topic or field.
  • [29:00] Closing thoughts from Michael.

Connect with Dr. Michael Thompson

Resources & People Mentioned

What is “Broader Impacts?”

The term, “Broader Impacts” is defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as “…the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.” The NSF further clarified its thinking on broader impacts in 2011 when it issued a report stating that broader impacts “may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are directly supported by, but are complementary to, the project” and that all broader impacts activities must be meaningfully assessed and evaluated.

Dr. Michael Thompson went even more in-depth with his explanation of this term, going beyond what NSF has defined by reaching back to pre-modern America. Dr. Thompson says that the Choctaw Nation has a name for broader impacts called “I’yyi Kowa.” As a concept and practice, it meant that this service needed to ensure beneficial stability or “social balance” and advancement of their society.

Communication Tips

It is no coincidence that most people fear public speaking more than any other situation, getting up to speak in front of others is nerve-wracking. What if there was a way to midgate those fears and hone your ability to communicate to your audience? Most professionals don’t have a problem with the content of their communication, it often comes down to delivery or adjusting their approach to their audience. 

Dr. Michael Thompson was gracious enough to reveal his helpful tips for communicating to an audience that is new to your topic or subject matter. 

  • Be observant. Watch other communicators.
  • Read and research communication techniques.
  • Listen to yourself talk. Eliminate filler words (uh, um, and).
  • Learn how to think while you are talking.
  • Read something that makes you think before you speak.
  • Practice speaking over and over.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.

These are just a few of the powerful insights that Dr. Thompson shares on this episode. To hear more about how he became a more effective communicator, make sure to listen to this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks

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