Show Emotions to Tell Science Stories: Prologue

The other night my wife suggested that we watch 7 Days Out on Netflix.


Epic efforts are an emotional journey regardless of how much you know.

This six-part docuseries follows the people involved with pulling off a significant event, profiling their work in the immediate seven days before said event. There is no content or personnel overlap between the events. The framing is minimal – just onscreen captions to set the scene. No voiceover narration. A lot of people speaking to the camera, sometimes in sit-down interviews, sometimes in the midst of the action.

My wife and I enjoy watching documentaries for different, but overlapping, reasons. She likes human stories that show an individual or small group’s dedication to their chosen cause. I was traditionally drawn by content alone, typically science or current events, occasionally artists.

But as I have made crafting quality presentations my professional focus, any topic is of interest so long as there is a good story. She has exposed me to documentaries I might never have watched, and I am better at what I do because of her.

As of this writing we have watched 4 episodes of 7 Days Out. Her reaction to episode 3, on the ending of the NASA Cassini mission to Saturn, has inspired me to write a series of blog posts on the masterclass in storytelling this series demonstrates.


It has long been known in our household that I have a planetary science degree. I frequently work with and speak to active research scientists to help them develop and deliver more captivating and memorable presentations. So if my wife wanted some information about what space probes do around other planets and a sense of the scientists and engineers who run those projects, you could say she knows someone who could speak to that or find something quickly.

It has not been a pressing need. Since she is a brilliant and dedicated financial professional, her insight proves far more daily valuable in our household than, say, different ways to measure the density of seawater.

But in under an hour, 7 Days Out took us both on an epic human journey that happened to be about planetary science, bringing us both to tears, moments of awe and fascination, and a desire to know more. Also to watch it again.

Epic science is an emotional journey regardless of how much you know.

Through the next series of posts, I’ll review the narrative structure of episode 3 of 7 Days Out, entitled “NASA’s Cassini Mission”.

Understanding how the editors clearly took many hours of footage to weave an epic in less than 47 minutes can help you craft a better presentation on technical content for any audience. Regardless of your field of expertise. And regardless of your audience’s field of expertise.

The gist is this:

To get your ideas discussed in rooms you never enter, you MUST include emotion in your presentation.

Here are the other installments in this series, as they appear:

Prologue (this post)

Begin in the Middle

Let Characters Tell the Story

Editing Renders Memories

The Heart of It All

nasa-jpl backlit saturn

3 thoughts on “Show Emotions to Tell Science Stories: Prologue

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