How researchers get heard
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Your Taste is Not Your Friend

The Roman poet Martial, master of the poetic form known as the epigram, once had a hater named Velox.

Martial told him: “You complain, Velox, that I write long epigrams. You yourself write nothing. Yours are shorter.”

Martial knew how to ship. Velox…didn’t. As a result, Martial’s three sentences are all the world remembers about Velox.

There are plenty of reasons research experts fall back on to explain why they don’t ship more public expertise. Taste is one of the biggest and least talked about — and least justifiable.

Taste is the forbidding voice in your head that helps you maintain your high standards in work and life. At least, that’s what you tell yourself.

Taste is really just a way of protecting yourself from risk and fear — risk and fear of being judged, of being overextended, of being out of control, of being vulnerable or responsible or exposed or different.

Taste is why your web redesign is a month behind two months in, because you don’t like the color of the buttons or haven’t seen a font that you can live with.

Taste is why you keep requesting change after change to your podcasts, delaying the drop so much that people stop looking for you in their feeds.

Taste is why you want polished video rather than something quick and lo-fi. So taste is why you’re not doing any video at all.

Taste is why you keep pitching opinion pieces to Nature and Science and the same six media giants instead of USA Today or The Hill. Or starting your own Substack.

Taste is why you don’t talk about how much time you spend crafting your talks, especially when your colleagues boast they’ve never spent more than 30 minutes putting one together.

Taste is why you don’t do a communications plan for your research until the last minute.

Taste is why you ignore the data about your organization’s communications performance in favor of going by your gut.

You should always defend your brand and your organization’s brand by refusing opportunities that would degrade them. But you should spend more energy building those brands by accepting opportunities that widen your circle and conversations and influence and impact.

Taste is the voice telling you not to do that. Taste tells you to be less available, less willing, less risk-taking, less experimental. It’s the voice of Velox — the voice of oblivion. Ignore it.