Is Your Research Pitch “Camera Ready”?

In talking with researchers and developers in the NIDILRR grantee community, we’ve learned that they are passionate about their work and excited to share it with their colleagues, practitioners, and, most importantly, people with disabilities and their families. These researchers are incredibly knowledgeable about their field and can spend whole conferences talking about what they do. That passion and expertise is wonderful, but it may not reach everyone who needs to hear it. Conferences are expensive to attend and long presentations full of technical jargon can be challenging to follow.

Having a low-jargon speech or video ready to go could help get this information into the hands and minds of more stakeholders. The rise of short-form presentations, often in plain language, is increasing access to information about research and development. Possibly the most famous are TED Talks, with thousands of videos of experts sharing their knowledge and experience in engaging talks. Other formats include the Three-Minute Thesis competition, which challenges doctoral students to distill their thesis into one slide and a three-minute talk aimed at a non-specialist audience; Pecha Kucha, where presentations are 20 slides and 20 seconds long; and the Elevator Pitch for Scientists, a brief statement of the why and how of a research project.

Here are some examples of NIDILRR grantees who pitched their research and development work in brief and approachable formats:

Karl Zelik, PhD, leads a field-initiated project on toe-joint articulation in passive and powered prostheses. He and his lab staff have a series of fun and interesting videos about biomechanics, wearables, and machine learning to engage K-12 students, including this 2-minute video What Biomechanics Means to Us.

Michelle Mullen, PhD, leads the Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) Project which is running its program on several college campuses. Dr. Mullen had her pitch ready for this segment on Channel 12 in Binghamton NY where the latest HYPE program was starting up.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long -Term Disabilities and the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Universal Design in the Workplace published a video series on the Seven Principles of Universal Design. The series features clear examples universal design solutions that make places and products accessible as an afterthought.

Cognitopia developed the MyLife Tool under several NIDILRR grants. MyLife is a suite of apps that help students with cognitive disabilities self-advocate and self-direct toward their educational and employment goals. In a short video, Makenna demonstrates using the platform to lead discussions for her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in a dynamic and engaging way. Cognitopia also maintains a blog with short, shareable articles showing real people using their tools in real life situations.

Are you ready to craft your elevator pitch? Here are some resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere to get you started. Tag us on Facebook or Twitter when your TED talk airs!

Plain Language Summary Tool from the Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research, along with a long list of plain language resources from the scientific community and federal agencies.

Engage the Media from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center offers tips and tools for working with a communications office, building an effective press release, responding to media requests, and developing key messages for effective communication. promotes the use of plain language for all government communications. Visit the training section for videos, style guides, and other resources for the public.

Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science empowers scientists and health professionals to communicate complex topics in clear, vivid, and engaging ways. The Alda-Kavli Learning Center offers articles, webinars, and events around effective and engaging science communication.

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