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Even given the extraordinary value of lay-level research communications, you may worry that the effort will take too much valuable time from your research and other professional duties. However, lay-level communications contribute significantly to your ability to carry out your professional duties. For one thing, they give you a chance to hone the same skills and techniques that you will apply to communicating with your colleagues. Giving talks, making news videos, and helping with news releases will make your professional communications immeasurably better.
True, as you scan the table of contents of Explaining Research, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the multitude of ways to communicate your work—talks, news releases, Web sites, videos, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and so on. You may feel that the time investment is just too much. However, you will be expected to create many of these communications anyway, so why not invest a bit of effort in making them professional-quality and more effective?
Also, recognizing how precious your time is, the book will show you how to develop a "strategy of synergy" that enables you to plan and carry out your communications to make the benefits greatly outweigh the costs in time and energy. What's more, the special online section working with public information officers shows you how to enlist their services to help your communications. These services can include
Finally, of course, you have a duty to explain your research to the society that supports your work. As then-AAAS president John Holdren (now presidential science advisor) told attendees at the 2007 annual meeting of the association:
Scientists and technologists need to improve their communication skills, so that they can convey the relevant essence of their understandings to members of the public and to policymakers. They need to seek out avenues for doing that. And I believe that every scientist and technologist should tithe ten percent of his or her professional time and effort to working to increase the benefits of science and technology for the human condition and to decrease the liabilities. The challenges demand no less.