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How to transform your research into a compelling science story!

An open book with science icons floating out. Titled science storytelling.

Ahh storytelling! 😍

From First Nation sketches on walls to Shakespeare penning his epic tales, the art of storytelling has been around since the dawn of time.

From early childhood, stories have captivated us, becoming treasured tales we joyfully recount even decades later.

But a beautifully crafted story is not just for children. Storytelling is perfect for science too! 🔬

Let’s dive in to find out why you should employ science storytelling! Plus we will reveal our secret weapon to transform your research into a magic tale every time. 😉 🙌

Why tell a story in science?

Let me paint you a picture.

You’re in the lab as your heart starts to race with excitement over making an incredibly novel discovery! ✨

… only to be met with glazed-over eyes as you try to explain the significance to your friends, family, or even your fellow scientists.

A GIF of someone throwing a pen in frustration

We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, it's an all-too-common predicament in the world of science.

Stories are the key to breaking through this barrier to ensure your research is heard. 📖

In fact, a well-told story allows you to connect with your audience at an emotional level, hook them in, and keep them wanting MORE. 🙌

The science of storytelling

So how do we make a scientific story magical and memorable?

Let’s break it down. 👇

Secret weapon: ABT (It’s not avocado, bacon and tomato)

Well you might be nodding along, thinking YES! Let’s tell a story.

But how?

Storytelling feels like a blurry and hard-to-grasp concept to many. Does it need to start with ‘Once upon a time’?

You’re likely used to working with just facts and figures, so how do you take this and make it a story?

Let us introduce you to our secret weapon!


The "And, But, Therefore," framework or ABT is the backbone of a good story.

And, but, therefore example image.

It is about as simple as storytelling methods go, and works great for scientists. 😉

This framework was conceived by Dr. Randy Olson, a scientist turned filmmaker, and is a foolproof way to transform your science into an engaging and memorable story.

Step 1: The 'And' Part

Begin your narrative by setting the stage.

Every good story starts with a great beginning. Take the timeless tale of The Lion King, 🦁 the opening scene unveils a grand display of the vast and vibrant animal kingdom of the Pride Lands. We are introduced to Simba, the cub of the noble King Mufasa, not as an ordinary lion, but as a future king extraordinary ceremony echoing with anticipation.

This paints a picture for your audience of the ordinary world, the status quo.

Here, you will introduce your audience to the world of your research. Provide the most essential, existing knowledge in your field or background of your specific topic.

Image example: Hermit crabs are adorable AND keep our beaches clean.

Like the first act of a movie where the environment and the characters are set up, the key is to make it relatable and clear to your audience.

This is your "Once upon a time..." storybook moment.

Once upon a time storybook

Step 2: The 'But' Part

The most pivotal part that drives any story forward, the ‘but’…

This is where you introduce the problem or conflict which will fuel the rest of the narrative.

Like in The Lion King when Mufasa is murdered and Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible for his father's death and run’s away. This is your emotional hook.

This is the pivot of your story. In the case of scientific research, it’s where your research question comes in, or the gap in knowledge you intend to fill. Highlight why it matters.

Image example: BUT new research found that plastic pollution is a serious threat to their survival because  the little crabs struggle to climb out of slippery plastic containers and end up trapped.

Your audience needs to feel the tension. The challenge. And the STAKES.

Without drama and high stakes you are not telling a story.

Step 3: The 'Therefore' Part

Here's the climax!

This is the part of the story where the plot reaches it peak! Where conflicts are resolved or answers are revealed. That ‘feel good’ moment that we all love. 💙

Let’s continue with our classic story The Lion King, the 'therefore' is when Simba embarks on a self-discovery journey, ultimately returning to reclaim his rightful place as king. 👑

Bringing the story ‘full circle’.

In research this is generally your experiments, your findings and conclusions. The 'therefore' can also extend into the implications of your research, or future steps.

Image example: THEREFORE, we need to do everything we can to prevent plastic from getting into the ocean.

It’s the end. So you want to wrap everything up in a nice little bow! 🎀 No one likes a cliff hanger, so ensure your 'therefore', specifically addressed the ‘but’ you set up above.

Science Storytelling

Remember, people are more likely to engage and retain information presented in the form of a story compared to dry facts or statistics.

But science is complex and often resists tidy narratives.

Therefore, the ABT framework, with its simplicity and versatility, is your secret weapon to transform any research topic into a captivating tale that will enthral your audience.

See what I did there.

Wink wink GIF

Here's to transforming the face of scientific communication, one story at a time! 🙌

Unlock the art of storytelling

Want more storytelling tips?

Learn how to bring your science to life in one of our online or in-person science communication workshops!

At Animate Your Science, we're passionate about empowering researchers like you with the communication skills necessary to turn complex science into simple, compelling stories. With a focus on storytelling and science communication our workshops equip attendees with the ability to reach, resonate, and persuade both expert and lay audiences.

Don't just take our word for it!

Here's what a researcher from the University of Adelaide had to say about our workshops: "Excellent workshop, very informative. Have developed some very useful skills for future presentations and media interactions." ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Join many satisfied institutions by recommending us to your own! Together, let's transform your research into a tale worth telling.

If you're ready to learn the art of storytelling, don't hesitate to get in touch with us today!


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