Turning farm pests into food

By David Poulson

Some stories just tell themselves.

How can anyone resist listening to a project to turn grasshoppers and locusts into a protein source for livestock and people?

Still, regardless of how good the material is, you want to make the best use of your storytelling assets. Anticipate your audience’s question.

Here, researcher John Nduko does an excellent job explaining the multiple problems this work could solve. But I’d like to hear the nitty gritty of how this works.

How do they harvest these bugs? And once they got them, how do they turn them into food? Mash ’em all up into a giant pancake? Such questions are opportunities for engagement.

But they’re often hard to develop. That’s because many researchers are deep into the research and know their subject inside and out. It’s helpful if they imagine people coming to the subject for the very first time and with little context.

The images used in this presentation are good. They would be greatly improved if they were not placed on a single slide. Instead, put just one large image on each slide.

Your audience will see it better. But the great advantage is that by moving to a new slide, you’re giving the signal that you’re moving on to a new element of the presentation. It’s like a bread crumb you leave to bring your audience along the trail of a story.

Dole that story out in crumbs rather than dropping an entire loaf of bread on your audience – unless that loaf is made of locust flour.

Check out other examples of this kind of work here.

(David Poulson is the senior associate director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and director of the translational scholars program.)

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