Avoid Vague Generalizations

On March 30, I hosted an event called “What it means to be a science communicator: From part-time volunteering to a full-time career” with AMWA Rocky Mountain Chapter — the regional chapter of the American Medical Writers Association for Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.


Dr. Namrata Sengupta was the event presenter. Among the many things she discussed, I would like to highlight some of the best practices she recommended to make your message stick:


  • Avoid lecturing.

  • Don’t use vague generalizations.

  • When using numbers or measurements, use social math to provide scale.

  • Provide context.

  • End on a positive note.


An example of vague generalizations is using concepts such as “general public” or “lay audience.”


The truth is that there are no such things as the general public or a lay audience:


  • To communicate effectively, you have to understand who your niche audience is. It is impossible to speak to everyone equally and in the same manner.

  • For instance, the information young parents need differs from those of retirees. Being vague is not ideal in medical or scientific communication.


Additionally, Alan Alda’s book “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? — My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating“ was mentioned.



Since I had just finished reading “Do No Harm — Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery“ by Henry Marsh, I secured my next read thanks to my local library, which allows me to borrow e-books through Libby App.


At AMWA Rocky Mountain Chapter, where I have been serving as director of events since the fall of 2021, we were grateful to have Dr. Namrata Sengupta share her knowledge with all of us who attended the event.


Our events are free and open to both AMWA members and non-members. We are also looking for presenters for future events, so feel free to contact me if you’re interested.


Thank you!

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