At a workshop today on communicating science to government audiences, my colleague talked about the importance of avoiding technical measurements when talking to lay audiences.
That is, avoiding sentences like “this needle is 50 microns in diameter” or “this fossil whale is 20 meters in length”.
The measurement simply isn’t as amazing as you think it is, if your audience has no idea or no context of what that measurement means.
One tip I have on this is to use the semantic search engine Wolfram Alpha to translate measurements into more relatable scales.
Here is a screenshot of my query for “50 microns”:
So, instead of or in addition to mentioning “50 microns”, you can say that it’s about “half the thickness of a dollar bill” or “half the thickness of a strand of human hair”.
– Ben Young Landis