EP#102: Communicating with Action – with Barbara Tversky

On this episode of the GovComms Podcast, contentgroup CEO David Pembroke speakers to cognitive psychologist, Barbara Tversky.

Currently located in New York, Barbara is a Professor of Psychology at Columbia Teachers College as well as a Professor Emerita of Psychology at Stanford University. She has conducted extensive research into the areas of memory, language, spatial thinking, event cognition, extended mind, diagrammatic reasoning, design, gesture and creativity.

In this podcast, Barbara shares with us what she has learnt about the brain and how her research on gesture and movement can benefit communicators when trying to get an audience to understand or learn about a certain concept or idea.

Barbara explains how the brain is quite complex, and as a result, when you are trying to get a group of people to understand something, you must do so in a way that easy for the brain to understand.

She goes on to explain studies which she has conducted that prove how using gestures play a big role in helping someone understand a concept or remember a set of rules that they have to follow.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic seeing people separated and having to communicate through video conferencing platforms, such as zoom, more often, Barbara explains the difficulties that this holds for communicators and what changes she feels need to be made to these services, to allow the most effective forms of communication.

Barbara explains that gesturing is a natural way of communication, and that it should be used. She also explains to David that humans are visual thinkers and therefore should not shy away from trying to visualize ideas and concepts to their audience.

We end the episode with some tips from Barbara on how government communicators should use gestures and graphics to their advantage.

Discussed in this episode:

  • How our brains understand information and concepts and how we can best communicate them to one another.
  • The importance of gestures and the research that proves how effective they are.
  • How to communicate effectively when face-to-face options are not possible.