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Communication skills in math and science.

  1. Jun 24, 2011 #1
    I'm curious. Are there any science or math majors who found themselves needing to improve on communication with other majors and professors in a similar field? Was a mastery of the subject the most important thing in this communication, or was it more so just speaking more with others?
     
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  3. Jun 24, 2011 #2

    Evo

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    You need to be more specific about the type of trouble you're having. Do you stumble because you don't know the subject well enough, or you're ok with the subject, you just have trouble talking to people? If the latter, is it public speaking (to an audience) speeking in meetings, or informal conversation?
     
  4. Jun 24, 2011 #3

    disregardthat

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    It helps to draw pictures.
     
  5. Jun 24, 2011 #4

    micromass

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    When I was studying I had to do a lot of presentations for an audience. At first I was bad at it, but you learn it after a while. Right now, I don't think I have much problems communicating mathematics (unless my posts tell you otherwise :biggrin: )
     
  6. Jun 24, 2011 #5
    I'm not sure what you mean. Is it this?

    I'm curious. Are there any science or math majors who had trouble communicating with people who major in similar fields? Was a mastery of the subject the biggest problem in this communication, or was it lack of practice in speaking with people?
     
  7. Jun 24, 2011 #6
    Jimmy: That's it.
     
  8. Jun 24, 2011 #7

    BobG

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    Visual aids were the key to me developing some confidence in presentations, whether it was drawing them on a white board or pointing to them with a pointer. It helped draw my attention from myself and to the subject I was talking about. And, once I lost that self conciousness, it started to be a lot easier to interact with the people I was giving the presentation to - i.e. put more of my attention on them than on myself.

    Of course, I had really good written communication skills without hardly even trying (perhaps because I read so much). If just putting comprehensible sentences together is a problem, then your presentation skills will have a lot more serious problems than just getting used to talking in public.
     
  9. Jun 24, 2011 #8

    Evo

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    That's what? He just quoted you. We still do not know where you are having problems.
     
  10. Jun 24, 2011 #9

    BobG

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    No he didn't. Jimmy translated it.
     
  11. Jun 24, 2011 #10

    Evo

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    LOL, true. But we still have no specific idea what he's struggling with. Speaking privately with peers? Speaking to a small group in a meeting where there is back and forth interaction? Speaking in front of an audience where you need to get their attention and keep them interested for a specfic amount of time without a break?
     
  12. Jun 24, 2011 #11

    Pengwuino

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    The irony of this thread is delicious.
     
  13. Jun 24, 2011 #12
    i think sometimes there is difficulty because different professions use different language for the same concepts. or say, maybe you use a lot of probability math in engineering, but not so much statistics, so even the tools are a bit different.
     
  14. Jun 25, 2011 #13
    Evo:

    My original post wasn't that clear, I admit. I was asking if any science or math majors ever had trouble communicating concepts and thoughts to peers with similar majors. I guess I'm ultimately asking for advice on how to overcome this communication barrier, even though I didn't explicitly say that.

    I also asked if a particular fix for the problem could be simply mastering the material you are concerned about.
     
  15. Jun 25, 2011 #14

    chiro

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    Yes I am one who needed to do that. I currently go to Toastmasters and I keep going because I continually learn about communicating to other people (body language, speech, the whole kit and kaboodle).

    I don't think many people realize it, but a lot of technical people have to tell other non-technical people in ways that they can understand and in as little time as possible, their recommendations or results that these other people can use to make decisions.

    To answer your question, both are important. If you can't communicate effectively, then people won't be able to use your work/labor and you'll probably be sacked. If you don't have the technical know-how, then again other people will have no use for you and you probably won't be hired to begin with.

    If you do it enough times (as in presenting things to non-technical people), you'll get the hang of it.

    The key thing is to remember who your audience is and tailor everything to them. Writing an academic paper requires something different than giving a report to manager with no little technical training. Doing a talk to the public to raise public awareness for what you work is again requires a different approach.

    The more experience you get at doing this kind of thing with different audiences, the better you will become and you'll get a feel for how you should approach things.
     
  16. Jun 25, 2011 #15
    :biggrin: :approve:
     
  17. Jun 25, 2011 #16

    Evo

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    It would be easier to give you advice if you could give us examples of specific problems you have had.
     
  18. Jun 25, 2011 #17

    Astronuc

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    Mastery of the material is a good part of it, including knowledge of the vernacular. Beyond that, it is a learned skill in which one understands how to convey knowledge clearly and concisely, either orally or in writing. A skill is developed with exposure and experience.
     
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