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As the host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers,” Alan Alda has interviewed scientists, physicists, neuroscientists, and academics. Forging a connection with these guests through freewheeling conversations propelled him to develop new ways to communicate complex ideas more effectively. He founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, which since 2009 has trained more than 7,000 science professionals to communicate more effectively with the public.
The lessons of that experience—augmented by what he’s learned through his career as an award-winning actor, writer, and director—have been collected into a new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (Penguin Random House).
In a special evening, Alda digs into the heart of what it means to be a true and empathetic communicator, including such skills as listening with our eyes; looking for clues in the face; and honing our innate abilities to read the thoughts and feelings of others, especially when you have to discuss difficult subjects.
With his trademark frankness and humor, Alda explains what makes the techniques he developed, which also draw on the actor’s arts of storytelling and improvisation, so effective, and how they can be incorporated into everyday communications with families, friends, lovers, doctors, business associates, and anyone else to whom we need to speak—and listen.
Alda, who has won seven Emmy Awards and received three Tony nominations, is best known for playing Captain Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series “M*A*S*H” and Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing,” and was most recently seen on film in Bridge of Spies.
A copy of Alda’s book is included in the ticket price.
National Museum of Natural History
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