This presentation describes challenges faced by, and opportunities available for, communicating science to policymakers and the public. The challenges have several sources. One source is common errors about how people learn. Audiences have far less capacity to pay attention to
new information than many communicators appreciate. Another source is differences between communicative dynamics in typical scientific and political settings. When science enters political domains, the manner in which audiences interpret new information can be very different than in scholarly contexts. Collectively, these challenges lead many science communicators to be surprised about how badly their presentations are received. There are also opportunities for better outcomes. The source of these opportunities is scientific research on topics such as attention and source credibility. Research on attention reveals ways to make scientific presentations more memorable. Research on source credibility reveals how to earn and maintain an audience’s trust – even when discussing politically sensitive topics. In sum, science communicators can use insights from the social and cognitive sciences to stay true to their own research while making their findings more relevant and more memorable to more audiences.