Tips for more impact

Thanks for attending our IMPACT workshop! We’ve summarized our most important tips, tools, and resources below. If you want to learn more about science communication, check out our blog and Cause an Effect book series.

Don’t forget to fill out our feedback form below so we can make this workshop even better!

Ingredients for making impact

Define the impact you want to make

You don’t want to “inform people”, you want to create an impact! This means having a concrete positive effect on people and the world, like improving health, creating prosperity, protecting the environment or contributing to life-changing technologies. Define your goal, message and audience.

Choose a target audience

Think about why your message is relevant for your audience and how you can help them! In other words: don’t make them think, and don’t assume they know everything already. And make sure your message aligns with the audience you pick.

Think big before you think small

Before you start to think about small goals or the form of scicomm, think about what you actually want to change. Real change is not new legislation, it’s what happens afterwards: improved biodiversity, fewer people dying etc.

We use the IMPACT model below to think backwards from our big goal. For example: if we want to improve mental health (Impact goal) we need to inform psychologists, change health insurance and make new treatment protocols (outcomes), and do this we want to create a campaign that targets psychologists with an animated video, social media images and a website (output).

Thinking big before thinking small will help you create better paths to impact.

Write an engaging message

Impact starts with a great message! Write down your key message in a single sentence, by thinking about the following:

  1. What is the goal of your message?
  2. Who is your audience? Who can benefit directly from your message? And why is it relevant for them?
  3. What is the main thing you want to convey? This is the thing you want people to remember.

Need more help with this? Read more examples on how to create an engaging message in our article: How to design a poster presentation so your research stands out.


  • Don’t use jargon.
  • Always write in active voice, do not use passive sentences.
  • Use transition words like therefore and however.
  • Use logos, ethos and pathos in your story.
  • Start with a provocative question, anecdote, quote, or amazing fact.
  • End with a question, a call to action, a referral to your opening statement.


Fast food outlets are increasing in Rotterdam, causing children to be overweight.

Therefore, we want to activate policy makers to reduce fast food outlets in Rotterdam with new legislation.

In order to reduce obesity and improve public health.

Shape your message

Everything you create involves design. Whether it’s an e-mail, a report, a resume, a presentation, poster or graphical abstract. But often researchers never learn to design well, and perpetuate bad practices in academia that were never effective to begin with.

The form of your message can influence whether people read it or not

A good design should attract attention and be memorable, makes it easier to understand your work, reduces cognitive load, and helps you reach your communication goals.

Tweets with a visual abstract are more effective than non-visual tweets. They have 8x more reach, are retweeted 8x more, and result in 3x more visits to your paper.

Write conclusive headings

By getting to the point of your message, you reduce the cognitive load of your audience. Remember that 79% of people on the web only scan text. So write conclusive headings that summarize the paragraph below it.

Instead of “Introduction” write “Bats can carry diseases that infect humans”. This way people don’t have to work to learn your message.

  • Evaluation of an infection control link nurse program: an analysis using the RE-AIM framework. *No verb and we don’t know the main conclusion.

  • Our infection control link nurse program helped nurses to improve infection prevention practices in inpatient wards

Get creative with your science communication

A Word document is often not the right form for your message. So try to think of a great form in which to shape your message. Is it a website, infographics, animated video, poster, presentation or scrollytelling website? Find some inspiration in our overview of sci-comm forms.


Copy-right free images

Professional stock photography,,,,


Fonts & colors

Read more about design in our blog

Reach your audience

People will find you mostly by using a search engine or linking from another website (such as your university profile page). Think about what people will search for:

  • Your name
  • Your expertise
  • A question they have about your expertise

Once you know this, write about it so that people can actually find you. Each page has only one H1 heading and a unique title that’s most important for SEO (search engine optimization).

Blog about your expertise! Go to Answer The Public to find what people are searching for. Some examples:

  • A question: Does vitamin D boost the immune system?
  • A benefit for your audience: 10 scientific ways to improve your sleep
  • How to: How to do a regression analysis in SPSS

Be visible

  • Fill out your University profile page.
  • Fill out your LinkedIn page: add projects, images, testimonials, information about your research.
  • Ask questions at a conference.
  • Present a poster at a conference.
  • Give presentations.
  • Voice your opinion on Twitter.
  • Create an engaging visual from your research.
  • Be a guest in a podcast (or create one!)
  • Start a blog.
  • Write a column in a magazine.
  • Claim your domain name and create a personal website.
  • Create a fact sheet about your research.
  • Write a book.

Using (social) media

The media are a great intermediary to help you reach more uniform parts of the general audience. Think about which media can help you reach your audience. If you use social media, you can choose and do this yourself, but this requires more work. Be aware of the differences and similarities between science and the media.

When you want to attract attention from a journalist, ask yourself how these people would likely find you? What do they Google?

Tips before you do a media interview

First you ask questions: what do they want, who are they (writing for)? An interview never ends, and off the record doesn’t exist. Don’t let anyone put words in your mouth.

How to get your message across:

Before you start using social media…

  • Think about what it means to your privacy and free time.
  • What do you want to get out of it?

Then, build your online presence by completing your university and LinkedIn profiles, and expand from there.

Cause an Effect series

Books on Science Communication

Based on a combined 25 years of practical experience helping scientists, these books on science communication will provide you with the knowledge and tools to plan your communication, write better, engage the media with confidence, tell an engaging story, and design better presentation slides.

Share your feedback!

We hope our workshop made you a better science communicator. As we often say: “Feedback turns good into better, and better into best”. So we’d love to hear from you what you liked and how we can improve. We’ll be eternally grateful for your feedback!

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