Why Words and the People Who Write Them Matter

In life sciences marketing, every company must face the challenge of communicating complex information clearly — in a way that’s both scientifically accurate and maximally engaging. It’s no small feat.

If we only had one kind of audience, the task would be simpler. Writing for a scientific journal publication, for example, requires rigor and precision, and using persuasion is a delicate matter that can turn your treatise into a river of red ink.

In fields like drug discovery, biotechnology, medical devices, and clinical trial management, your readers range from fellow scientists and regulators to investors and the public. So, crafting messages that resonate across these audiences without diluting the foundational science is a delicate balancing act. The principles of effective communication, however, remain. Because no matter what your audience members do or how well-educated they are, they’re 100% human...at least for now.

To stand out in an industry powered by some of the most advanced technologies and methods known to humankind, life sciences communication must, of course, be accurate. But lots of people in this industry can do that. What they don’t always hit the target on is compelling, clear, accessible copy. After all, life sciences companies aren’t just doing science, they’re selling it. So, the real question is, how do we hit all the marks on scientific copywriting?

Let’s walk through insights on achieving this balance and review some practical steps on how to “talk science” without oversimplifying your content. We’ll cover key themes, strategic tips, and tried-and-true techniques to help science-based organizations enhance their communication efforts, with the goal of not just informing our audience, but inspiring action.

Audience Engagement: If Nobody Wants to Read It, It’s Not Worth Writing

Effective communication in scientific fields is not just about sharing information; it’s about engaging the audience. Whether the goal is to attract funding, gain regulatory approval, sell your services/solutions, or build thought leadership, the ability to convey complex ideas in a compelling and understandable manner matters — a lot.

Engaging content can bridge the gap between a company’s scientific capabilities and their practical implications for readers, leading to a greater understanding and appreciation of your services and solutions. This is an important factor in turning readers into leads and leads into sales.

Clear and compelling scientific communication also has a significant impact on how information is received and acted upon. For instance, well-communicated research findings can expedite the approval process for new drugs, influence policy decisions, attract investors, and tip the scales in your favor for new clients — basically, all the things you want.

Understanding Your Audience

Identify Your Target

The first step in effective communication is understanding who your audience is, given the purpose of the piece. Scientific communications can be highly targeted, but you often need to address multiple stakeholder groups at once, each with its own distinct level of expertise and reason for interest in what you’re trying to say.

Here are a few examples:

  • Scientists and researchers: Expect detailed and technical information to validate findings and place in the context of existing research
  • Regulators: Need clear, precise data to make informed decisions regarding approvals and compliance
  • Investors: Look for compelling narratives that highlight the potential impact and profitability of your scientific advancements and capabilities
  • General public: Want to know how scientific developments affect their daily lives and what the broader societal implications might be

Tailor Your Message

Once the audience is identified, the next step is tailoring the message to meet their specific needs, fluency, and expectations. So, you’ll need to adjust the level of technical detail and use language that resonates accordingly. For example, while a detailed explanation of the molecular mechanisms of a new drug might be suitable for a scientific journal or white paper, a news release aimed at the general public should focus more on the potential health benefits and improvements in quality of life.

Generally speaking, people don’t enjoy information they can’t understand or use, so choose your words wisely.

6 Tips for Balancing Technical Language

1. Simplify Without Dumbing Down

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~Albert Einstein

One of the biggest challenges in scientific communication is simplifying the message without losing its essence. Let’s jump into some strategies:

  • Use analogies and metaphors: Analogies and metaphors can make complex concepts more relatable and help non-experts understand difficult processes
  • Avoid jargon: Highly technical terms can alienate readers who are not familiar with the field, so whenever possible, use plain language or provide definitions for necessary technical terms
  • Break down information: Present information in manageable chunks, using subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to improve readability

2. Tell a Story

One of the most effective ways to balance scientific and technical language is through storytelling. By framing scientific content within a narrative, it becomes more relatable and engaging for a broader audience.

For instance, consider a news release about a new cancer treatment. Instead of focusing solely on the technical details of how the treatment works, the story could begin with a patient’s journey, describing their diagnosis, treatment experience, and recovery. Taking this approach not only humanizes the science but also highlights the real-world impact, making it more compelling for readers.

Incorporating elements such as the challenges faced during research, the collaboration between scientists, and the potential future applications of the treatment can add more richness to the narrative. By selectively weaving technical details into a story that readers can connect with emotionally, you can make the content more accessible and engaging, without sacrificing scientific accuracy.

3. Don’t Forget the Visuals

Visual aids are invaluable in making scientific content more accessible. They can illustrate complex data and concepts in a way that is easier to understand. Consider the following:

  • Charts and graphs: Use these to present data in a visually appealing and easily digestible format (the simpler, the better)
  • Infographics: Summarize key points and processes using infographics, which can be particularly effective in online content
  • Videos and animations: For more complex explanations, consider using videos or animations to visually demonstrate processes and findings

4. Make It Personal and Focus on Benefits

Abstract language is usually not the best way to move the needle for readers. You need to make your story personal, and whenever possible, make it about THEM.

Instead of “a,” “the,” and “me” language, lean toward “you,” “your,” and “we” when it makes sense. No matter how amazing your business is, nobody wants to hear you go on and on about why that’s the case unless you’re framing your discussion as “this is why I can help solve your problems.”

The conversation should always revolve around the needs and interests of the reader — their pain points, or what keeps them up at night. You need to find their itch and scratch it. Never let readers walk away from a piece thinking, “I’m not sure why this matters to me.” Your goal is to communicate your business’ value and how you can make life easier, more predictable, and more profitable for your audience.

5. Incorporate Testimonials and Case Studies

Testimonials and case studies add credibility and relatability to scientific communications. They provide real-world evidence of the impact and effectiveness of the research or technology. Here are two ways to use them effectively:

  • Expert quotes: Include quotes from respected figures in the field to lend authority to the content
  • Case studies: Present detailed case studies that show how the research or technology has been applied successfully in real-world situations

6. Include a Call to Action

Most forms of communication should contain a clear call to action (CTA) — usually near the end, though including more than one often works. For example, you might have multiple CTAs on a webpage, directing you to specific related pages or resources that are related to different sections of the page.

You can encourage readers to learn more, attend an event, or contact your organization for further information.

  • Be direct: Clearly state what action you want the reader to take
  • Provide links: Include links to additional resources, contact forms, or event registrations
  • Be unique: Mix up your CTA language, rather than recycling “Learn More” over and over (BORING)

Conclusion: Make Your Story Count

Balancing scientific and technical language in communications is essential for effectively reaching and engaging diverse audiences. By simplifying complex concepts, telling compelling stories, using visuals, and focusing on the benefits, science-based organizations can ensure their messages are both informative and engaging.

By applying the techniques outlined above, your scientific content can achieve its intended purpose — whether it’s to inform, inspire, or drive action. The key lies in making content accessible and engaging for all. No matter how complex an industry is, that fact remains.



Carl Stevens elevates SCORR’s content strategy as copy manager and scientific copywriter. He has built a strong foundation over a decade of experience in marketing copywriting and scientific publishing, including a recent chapter in The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity and Emotions. Carl leverages his training and creativity to produce exceptional content. His repertoire spans a wide array of formats, including website copy, white papers, articles, and social media posts, translating complex scientific concepts into engaging and informative content. At the helm of the copy team, he fosters collaboration with subject matter experts, project managers, writers, and designers, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, timely content that propels clients toward their goals. Carl earned his Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, mentored by his dissertation chair, Frank Amthor, a leading vision researcher. 

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