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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsI also try to limit my use of jargon from the industry and try to explain to them in simple terms what we do. [MUSIC] I think you've got to think carefully about the way you explain things and the way you explain task and that's something you need to prepare before you come in. Especially when you're talking about science where there's lots of technical vocab. Make sure you explain it. Don't use big, long words, cuz that's the thing that will switch kids off. If you start using three words that they don't understand, then you've lost them. So explain what words you're talking about. Explain their meanings and try and relate it to something that they can understand.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsBecause making sure they follow what you're saying and they can understand is the most important thing cuz otherwise they'll just switch off. I think you can often go wrong when you've got lots of similar words going on. And when you are really comfortable in the area of science, or engineering, or whatever, you know what these words mean, so deeply ingrained that you use them in the right situations all the time. But these kids won't do that, and so if you've got some things like solution, and solute, and solvent when we're talking about dissolving, those words to kids are so similar. And they get them muddled up all the time.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 secondsEven more different things like dissolving and diffusion, they get those words muddled up, so try and be really clear with your language and make sure that you're explaining the difference between words. And don't let the kids get away with mixing their words up because that's just gonna confuse them further. [MUSIC]

Tone of voice and language

We convey meaning and hold people’s attention in lectures, presentations and ordinary conversations by how we use our voices, not just by our choice of words. Good communicators vary their vocal tone to suit both their audience and the subject matter that they are communicating.

In the video above, Bradley, a STEM Ambassador from Lear Corporation, and Sarah, a trainee teacher, talk about how tone of voice and use of appropriate language is significant in the way they work with young people.

Appropriate language and tone

The level of formality in the language we use also varies with the setting in which the activity is taking place and the age of the young people we are working with. For lectures or structured presentations such as talks in a school assembly, a style which is dynamic and rich in tonal range is more likely to capture and sustain the interest of an otherwise ‘passive’ audience.

In contrast, during a busy practical activity, using ‘calming’ vocal tones helps to manage the energy in the room, keep the young people focused on the purpose of their practical work and avoid any ‘silliness’.

Task

Think about these descriptions of possible tones of voice and what audience responses each might produce.

soft / harsh / bright / monotonous / melodic / shrill / anxious / cheery / muffled / energetic / dramatic

Pick one of the words then share how that tone of voice may be effective and/or ineffective in particular volunteering situations.

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This video is from the free online course:

Inspiring Young People In STEM: Activities and Improving Communication

National STEM Learning Centre

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