Meteor SciComm

We crave advanced-user conversations with other mid-career scicomm professionals (like us!) so we can learn and grow together, and check each other when we need it. Let’s dig into branding, projects that matter, privilege, and inclusive science communication, with actionable, tangible steps to level up. Join us!
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Meteor trailer— welcome to the podcast!
Let’s give ‘em something to talk about: Season 1 close-out Q&A
In this episode, we’re really talking with you about scicomm. We are answering YOUR questions, and we’re excited to rove widely through topics and questions you’ve sent us. We touch on the big picture and the nitty gritty of: How we approach the on-going work of staying on top of convos around justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and how they relate to scicomm. Framing up a scicomm CV (or do you really need a resume?!?). Pitching scicomm experimentation to clients, coworkers, or supervisors. Getting back to scicomm basics when talking a supervisor or client into prioritizing aspects of scicomm that are beyond their comfort zone (like experimentation or assessment). Life-long learning as a scicommer and how to learn new things in a scicomm career. Our hot takes? Learning about diversity and inclusion doesn’t and shouldn’t have an end point. If you can’t wedge scicomm into a CV using Bethann’s tips, maybe you gotta ditch the CV and dig into the world where resumes rule. Don’t forget - you probably spend more time thinking about scicomm than anyone around you. What you think is reasonable might feel risky to someone else. Just calibrate for that. Don’t get bored. And, don’t look to scicomm alone for new ideas - lots of the innovative scicomm you get pushback for would be beige in other comms and marketing settings. We also shout-out The Writer’s Co-op (https://www.thewriterscooppod.com/), a podcast about running a freelance writing business. We mention TWC while talking about career transitions including freelancing. While we’re on break, TWC might fill the podcast-sized hole you’ll have in your schedule. After all, a lot of the procedures and good habits of freelancing are productive in institutional scicomm settings, too. Thanks for cruising along with us for all of Meteor’s first season! If we didn’t cover a question or big theme you’d like to hear us tackle, hit us up! We’ll be back in the new year with another season and some great courses. Virginia’s running one about scicomm on TikTok, and Bethann’s running a course on melding life and scicomm goals. Be sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter. We’ll take the work out of keeping up and send all the details about these courses and our next season straight to your inbox. Take care and talk soon!*** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us what questions you want answered next year!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm).
Dec 2 2021
37 mins
Balance, schmalance
We (Bethann and Virginia, not the collective ‘we’) actively resist the notion of “work-life balance”. It has too many vibes of work and life being mutually exclusive, as if they’re balanced against each other on a scale. And, in a lot of #SciComm, work and life are already so stinkin’ integrated. So, we lean into the framework of “work-life harmony”. We aim for getting work done and fulfilling ourselves along the way. This gets complicated when we’re doing scicomm for someone else: How fully do you want to “assume” the identity of that brand? When do you byline as yourself versus the brand? How do you keep from taking feedback personally? What if there’s no brand strategy, so every scicomm piece hits a bottleneck? Navigating thin boundary lines is necessary in scicomm coaching and mentorship, too:Reconciling when you can work to make something better and when the client will have to take it the rest of the way. Setting our own metrics for success since we can’t control if a client actually does what we recommend. Helping someone grow without getting too involved in their business and life. Knowing when to say goodbye, with the acknowledgement that we often don’t get to know “the rest of the story” for someone we mentor, once they move beyond us. Work-life harmony is about active decisions, not passive participation. We’re not always going to get things the way we want them, but we’re trying. What about you? What keeps you up in the middle of the night? What are you so invested in that it pops up without invitation? It’s not always bad... but the unbidden things indicate that your investment could be more deliberate. You don’t necessarily have to get out or get rid of it. Just reckon with the space it’s occupying. Bonus! Bethann’s running a big-picture goals workshop in January. We’ll be looking at trying to align our vision for our own lives, rather than pitting various priorities against each other. If you want to join that convo, sign up at meteorscicomm.org/courses.  *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us what you're making time for!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm).Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/11/24/ep9-balance-schmalance/
Nov 24 2021
27 mins
Grappling with our science wife identity
Our last episode for this season will be an open Q&A. Send us your questions, ideas, puzzles and dilemmas by November 22, and we’ll fit in as many as we can for the December 2 episode! There’s a lotta baggage around being someone’s partner, especially a wife, especially in science. These issues leak over into scicomm for many folks, whether you’re a ‘science wife’ or navigating some other kind of partnership. This week, we tackle:What we wish we’d known about being a science wife before started our relationships. Things about being married to scientists that we wish were common knowledge. The hardest thing for us in our roles as science wives. Ways that our science partnerships have positively shaped our careers. Navigating shared/overlapping professional identities and spaces. Dig in for yourself: Do you spend a lot of time calibrating for the people around you? Do you give yourself much just-you time? Take some time to yourself today, even just 5 minutes, to just be you. [We know...this kind of assignment might feel like it’s for hoity toity people. But “taking 5 minutes for myself” could be just laying on the floor with the door shut against the kids, being unavailable for just a little while. And making that time, just a little every day, can help us feel way more in control. More like we choose who we are and the role we play in the world.] *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us how your unavailable time goes!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/11/18/ep8-identity-science-wives/
Nov 18 2021
31 mins
Drop everything... for something new
Our last episode for this season will be an open Q&A. Send us your questions, ideas, puzzles and dilemmas by November 22, and we’ll fit in as many as we can for the December 2 episode! There's a whole sticky mess of having time vs. making time, and it can drag you down, make you question your sense of accomplishment, and even put you at odds with folks you care about. This week, we tackle some ways of re-thinking time, timelines, and commitments. There’s the friction of timelines in scicomm: Nanosecond turnarounds in the media sector. Agonizing over messaging at the institutional level. Possible micromanaging and bottlenecks associated with message control. Calibrating your own brand as a scicommer, wherever you work. There’s likely not a magic solution to this tension, because the stakeholders for a given product often have mutually exclusive needs. For example, fine-tuning a statement may satisfy an institution’s PR personnel while scrubbing the personality off of something ultimately destined for distribution via social media, where personality is key. And then there are short-notice opportunities, too! When we’re trying to juggle those, we keep in mind: Does this help me meet a professional metric? What do I have to say no to in order to say yes to this? What actions must I take to avoid being the bottleneck in someone else’s workflow? What’s the balance between “done” and “done enough”? Take stock of what’s demanding your time: Is there an ongoing thing that you’re letting linger? Could you wrap it up? And if you’re not doing so, why not? What would saying “good enough, done” help you say yes to next?  *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us what you're making time for!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm).Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/11/11/drop-everything-for-something-new/
Nov 11 2021
19 mins
The privilege of volunteering
No one can decide what you do for free but you. Volunteering is often a portal into relationships and career experience. It’s also a way to give back to our community or professional environments. But, unpaid labor is often exploitative (or not possible for some of us). It’s a rotten conundrum. ⚖ An equitable system should do away with volunteer opportunities and every opportunity should instead come with payment or other meaningful compensation. 💸 However, we gotta recognize that the system will not change overnight. So even if people believe that everyone should get paid for everything, there will still be volunteer opportunities out there today and tomorrow. You have to decide whether you’re going to volunteer yourself and if you’ll ask people to volunteer. 🤔 Here are a couple of factors we usually weigh: Bethann has figured out that some things can’t be done for free, or she’ll wind up resenting the project, especially if it’s being done for colleagues/professional friends. Virginia reminds herself of the priorities a project needs to hit using a modified version of the passion - prestige - pay triangle that folks often recommend for freelance gig decision-making. Sometimes volunteering really will make a difference in your life. Maybe you want to transition to scicomm, like we both did. We did both volunteer in lotsa ways while making that transition, even in order to make it. On the flip side, there’s a whole different calculation. What if you have an opportunity but you don’t have the funds to pay people for it? Dig in with us this week. Examine your process: What do you do for free? What would you ask someone to do for free? How do you decide so that your actions match your big-picture goals? BONUS! 🎁 Bethann’s running a workshop in January on big picture goal-setting. If you want to sign up, visit meteorscicomm.org/courses. *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (how do you juggle 🤹‍♀️ the whole volunteer thing?) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/11/04/ep6-the-privilege-of-volunteering
Nov 4 2021
25 mins
Why I don't help people (for free)
Being a good person means helping people for free and being a good business person means NOT helping people for free. So there has to be some kind of middle ground here for professionals. But how do you decide who you help and when? Saying no is complicated. You’re weighing a lot: You might need to make money, or typically do make money, from this activity. Giving advice for free risks limiting you to giving low-quality advice or eating up your billable hours/time you could be spending making progress on your own work. Access to free advice is tied closely to the networks and inside info that can lead to career success. Thus, free advice plays a crucial role in gatekeeping. But, helping people can be so meaningful, and so many of us got where we are because people helped us for free. When navigating this obstacle course, we assert: Remember, whether you’re an academic, a consultant, or an employee, there are only 24 hours in a day. You will have to say no sometimes. Keeping track of who you say yes and no to can help you identify unconscious biases (usually in favor of folks you know). Free help can feel more viable if it’s going to be common or public knowledge that lots of people can access for free (think blogs, articles, podcasts, etc.). Audit your own process: Who are the last five people you said no to helping for free? What did they have in common? Do your answers match your goals? BONUS! 🎁 Bethann’s gonna run a workshop on the question of big picture goal-setting. If you want to sign up, visit https://meteorscicomm.org/courses.  *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us about your guardrails!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/10/28/ep5-why-i-dont-help-people-for-free
Oct 28 2021
20 mins
This is the beginning (or not) of a beautiful friendship
We are going to assume that #1: you agree that we could all benefit from expanding our networks, but #2: there’s a cultural treatment of networking as if it has a bad aftertaste. 🤢 There are some real challenges here: How do you find people, or pick people to contact? Especially if you’re offering even a pipsqueak-sized platform or you’re inviting them into a space that will reflect on you or your brand? How do we ask for people’s attention in respectful ways that leave puh-lennnnty of room for them to say no? 😣 Whaddya do if you can’t pay someone and you’re asking for their time and expertise? And, omg, how do we tackle the gatekeeping aspect of all this!?! Examine your own feelings about networking: How do you get info about people you don’t already know? What concrete steps can you take to build on that? We propose: If you can’t get over the ick or tongue-tied part of networking, remember: humans evolved as a social species. Lean into the biology. 🤓 Be really up front (but not crass!) about whether you can pay people or not. And if you can, find other ways to provide value for them (exposure isn’t enough; you can die of exposure 🥶). Remember that networks are relationships, not transactions (though Virginia thinks that relationships may feel like transactions). Investing in a relationship is a long-term commitment (Bethann likes Inger Mewburn’s take on this: https://thesiswhisperer.com/2020/02/05/academic-spy-networks-and-why-you-need-one/). Expect people to say no to you and give yourself the grace to decline invitations, too. Do your homework. For example, lots of tools exist for finding minoritized voices. *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us how branding impacts you!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Listen to the full episode for all that ☝, plus: Rough scripts for framing invitations and referral requests. The rubric we used for setting up a recent panel on inclusive scicomm training. Taking the mentorship convo another step, to sponsorship. How to borrow a simple strategy Bethann’s used to start relationships that (over the long haul) grew into research projects, funded grant applications, and publications. Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/10/21/ep4-networking-beautiful-friendship-or-not
Oct 21 2021
26 mins
Branding is not a dirty word
We have a love/hate relationship with branding, as in: we love to use branding to share the goods while we loathe some aspects of the system branding happens in. But we talk to lots of people who feel that branding themselves or their work is moldy-peach gross. Plus, branding seems to run counter to traditional science assumptions: Results are supposed to speak for themselves. Spinning someone’s perception borders on unethical. Anything worth branding should be compelling enough on its own, without any marketing. We get where that comes from. We were trained that way too. But we say NO to those assumptions. We argue that: Scientific processes help us strive for objectivity in research processes, yes. But, science isn’t neutral even if we want it to be. Deciding if something is compelling or not is rooted in our individual values, which vary from person to person. Avoiding branding doesn’t mean that your thing emerges unbranded- instead it means that you’re letting dominant science narratives or your institute assign the branding. Science mentors must advise their trainees on marketing and career advancement in the context of unjust systems. Examine your own relationship with branding: Why is it easier to market your work than it is to market yourself? What concrete steps can you take right now to practice getting comfortable marketing yourself (who can you talk to or get feedback from, what materials will you share with them, etc.)? *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (tell us how branding impacts you!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Listen to the full episode for: Why we embrace branding and why we think some folks we work with don’t feel great about it. What we think about fame (bring it on!). How Virginia (https://www.virginiaschutte.com/) is trying to view negative responses to her personal brand as a sign of success. How Bethann (https://commnatural.com/) advises early career scientists about branding given unjust societal constructs. Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/10/14/ep3-branding-is-not-a-dirty-word
Oct 14 2021
16 mins
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is the resume or CV the fairest of all?
Instead of CVs and resumes being a tally, how can we think differently about CVs and resumes to get an extra career boost out of them?  Lately, we’ve tried: Using these documents as self-assessment tools to encourage positive self-evaluation Crafting our own job titles and definitions of ourselves so they reflect our motivations rather than the tasks we perform for a paycheck  Two tips to shift the way you present yourself in just a few minutes: For no less than 2 min: write down all the motivation words you can think of for why you hold your current position (don’t stop until your timer goes off!) Build your own job title; make it reflect your word cloud better than the job description title you’ve been assigned by your employer Knowing your "why" is adjacent to setting attainable, measurable goals and will set you up to productively work more on this later. *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (we’d love to know how reframing your position title impacts your sense of self!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Listen to the full episode for: A cheeky summary of our own CVs, resumes, and thoughts about these documents,  How Bethann (https://commnatural.com/) and Virginia (https://www.virginiaschutte.com/) have used CV and resume updates to ask for permission less and assume roles more confidently,  andOur strategies for getting quality and quantity into an application package. Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/10/07/ep2-resume-or-cv-fairest-of-all/
Oct 7 2021
21 mins
Goals in science communication— life raft or dead weight?
How can we set and use scicomm goals so they lift us up instead of drag us down? We suggest: Clearly articulate your goals from the beginning of any scicomm project or whenever you have an inflection point in your career. Give yourself permission to give self-reflection the time, energy, and respect it needs to serve you well. Allow yourself to use your goals as a “living document” and recognize that your goals will change over time. That’s life, not failure. How to get started setting your own goals in just a few minutes: For 5 min: write down (in brief) all the goals you can think of, big or small, that you’re currently pursuing. For 5 min: write down why you are pursuing each goal. Knowing the why is adjacent to setting attainable, measurable goals and will set you up to productively work more on this later. *** Join this conversation: follow us here and say hello (we’d love to know your why!) on Twitter with @MeteorSciComm (https://www.twitter.com/meteorscicomm). Listen to the full episode for: Why setting goals is essential for science communication project and career success, How Virginia (https://www.virginiaschutte.com/) uses goal-setting to chart her freelance career, What it’s like to set goals as a team, How Bethann (https://commnatural.com/) uses goal-setting to strategically add opportunities to her academic workload, How personal and professional goals can inform each other, and When goals become a burden and what strategies we use to turn things around. Share this episode using this link: https://meteorscicomm.org/2021/09/30/ep1-goals-life-raft-dead-weight/
Sep 30 2021
21 mins
What we think scicomm needsMeteor trailer— welcome to the podcast!
Sep 16 2021
1 min