Making Mountain Research Common: Harnessing the Power of Communication
article written by Heather Turnbach
14.02.23 | 11:02

Reflections, Tips, and Returning to “Why”

“Communicate Effectively” is a key function of the MRI Coordination Office, enabling us to meet our objectives and support the MRI network’s ability to advance scholarship and support sustainable development in mountain regions. As we reflect on how far we’ve come and where we aim to go next, we continually return to our communications “why”.

Consider that the root of the word communication means “to make common.” In a world full of noise and distractions, this simple meaning strikes us as a core part of this “why”. How can we create common ground and shared understanding, particularly with people whose perspectives may be very different from our own? After all, it’s through that commonality that we make connections for our changing mountains.

Today, the MRI is a network of thousands of people involved in mountain research, management, governmental and non-governmental institutions, and the private sector worldwide – each of us with our unique perspectives and voices. Communication is the vehicle that all of us can use to empower mountain research and innovation systems to address global challenges. As noted psychologist and writer, Anne Roe said back in 1952, “Nothing in science has any value to society if it is not communicated.”

Research needs to be seen and understood to have an impact, often by people without a research background. We know from experience, however, that mastering effective communication is not an easy task! In that spirit, we thought we would share our top three tips for creating effective communications:

  1. Know your audience(s) – Remember, communication is a two-way process. In the research community, one should not only present their findings but also be prepared to take into consideration the public’s needs and views. Be clear, don’t assume prior knowledge, and avoid jargon.
     
  2. Prioritize information – Structure information to present it in order of importance or priority. Consider journalism’s “inverted pyramid” where a newsworthy headline is followed by a lead paragraph (a summary that should answer key questions about the story, known as the ‘Five Ws’.)
     
  3. Tell a good storyNeuroscience research confirms that humans are wired for stories. If you can turn your message into a story, it has a much better chance of being remembered and accepted.

As we aspire to enhance our own MRI communications efforts, we recently invited members to share their views in a short survey. The results are in, and we look forward to using this data to continue to improve our communication with our audience(s). And we’ll keep coming back to our “why” all along the way.

Have you reflected on your own communications “why” lately? How do you harness its power, how do you create connections, and how can the MRI support you? Let us know: mri@mountainresearchinitiative.org.


Cover image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko.