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Inspire Curiosity in Your Audience

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Lesson time 7:55 min

Stoking curiosity is an essential component of effective communication. Neil demonstrates how to make the strategic delivery of information a powerful tool in your communication arsenal.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication
Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches you how to find objective truths and shares his tools for communicating what you discover.


[MUSIC PLAYING] - The most important thing you can be in life is curious-- curious about things you don't know, curious about things you do know or that you think you know, but that there's more to learn about it, curious about why other people think differently from how you think, curious about how data becomes information, becomes knowledge, knowledge becomes wisdom, curious about all of this. The more you can stoke curiosity, the more you can live a life, reaping the benefits of all that other fellow human beings have worked hard to discover. When I teach, I put a lot of thought into what level of information am I going to share with you in this moment versus a later moment-- more thought than might otherwise be apparent. For example, if you ask me, what's the shape of the earth? I'll say it's a sphere. It's definitely not a cube. It's a sphere. Once we get that far, I can add layers of detail on that basic shape to come closer and closer to what the actual shape of the actual earth really is. But in a first pass, it's a sphere. Do you want to know more? OK. Earth rotates, as we all know. It was rotating when it first formed. When it first formed, there was not yet a solid object. It was molten. And if you're molten, you're sort of squishy. If you're rotating, you can have the tendency to flatten pole to pole. So because of this, earth is not actually a perfect sphere. It's slightly flattened pole to pole-- a little wider at the equator. We have a word for this in mathematics. It's called an oblate spheroid. A spheroid is any sort of shape that is sort of round on all sides in some kind of regular way. So a perfect spheroid is a sphere. One that's slightly flattened is an oblate spheroid. If you squeeze it this way, and its longer pole to pole, you get a prolate spheroid. These are just the terms used in mathematics to describe them. So one is like a hamburger, one would be a dog-- each as extreme examples of those shapes. So are we done with that? Or do you need more detail? OK, let's keep going. Earth is slightly wider below the equator than it is at the equator, somewhere between 4 and 12 miles difference. That's small compared with a diameter of 8,000 miles. But it's still real. So it's actually a pear shaped oblate spheroid. But it makes for an interesting fact. You can ask, what is the highest point above sea level on earth? Of course, that would be the summit of Mount Everest, 28,000 feet or so up. Let's ask a different question. What is the farthest point on Earth's surface from Earth's center? That's a different question. That's not, how many feet above sea level are you? It's, how far away from Earth's center are you? That is not Mt. Everest. Mt. Everest is very far north of the equator. If earth is wider at the equator by several miles, and even wider just below the equator, let's look for some mountains there. Maybe there's a mountain there, when added to the extra oblateness, makes it the farthest d...

About the Instructor

With a hit talk show and bestselling books, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most popular figures in modern science. Now the influential astrophysicist teaches you how his mind works and how he connects with audiences. Learn to think like a skeptic, open your own mind through scientific literacy, distill data, and navigate bias to discover objective truths—and deliver your ideas in ways that engage, excite, and inspire.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

He shared wisdom beyond this galaxy and I hope others really heard the gems of knowledge he constructed so elegantly.

Nearly all of the content was familiar to me, but watching and hearing Dr. Tyson package it all so eloquently was remarkable.

Very informative class, I feel the most important aspect of the class is the objective truth and the lesson on communication and knowing your audience.

Science means very little unless we can communicate about it effectively.


A fellow student

I would suggest you read a book. 0-8, which is the title but a play on the terms zero and infinity. It is a bookl of Axioms, logics and relevant data on which Scientology is based


I am coming to the end of this class and enjoyed it very much. If anyone know of any other classes or talks he has please let me know.


Shaping what you give an audience can free you into a more comfortable presentation. As enjoying a meal without stuffing oneself. Add some laughter to the topic.


When I was in grad school, one of the things that instructors stressed (as part of preparing an interview strategy) was researching a perspective employer and shaping your responses to the questions around issues relevant to the industry.

Faye L.

How to present information (and how much information to present) depends on who I'm talking to. Brilliant

Shawn B.

It took me years to understand that I can't give my audience all that want to say on a topic. It's a hard lesson sometimes because while I may be extremely excited about a subject, it probably won't translate to whom I am talking to. I will tell you this though, once you get better at this, it's empowering to just give a person the tip of the iceberg and them walk away happy with that. They may just come back later looking for more and you are ready for it.

A fellow student

All of the videos have been incredibly enlightening and educational as well as affirmation I'm doing "it" right, whatever "it" actually is...

A fellow student

Around 7:29 Excellent point. Curiosity is feed by giving them a cup (at a time -me) rather than dumping the whole bucket on them.

Bernardo F.

If all teachers, if all educators were formed this way, most students would be interested in learning, and even by themselves. Nowadays, at least here in Mexico, most of the schools have frustrated students because the school is seen as an obligation, they don't like school, they don't like studying because the system is: memorize so you can answer an exam and then we can know if you're smart or dumb... If a kid doesn't work that way, then he's failed, and he's not doing anything productive for the rest of his life! Also, there's not a difference in levels, i.e. let's work harder with students that have it easy, that want to know more, that are more prepared or more interested; while keeping it enough complex to other students, so nobody falls behind.

Katia B.

Absolutely wonderful and I wouldn't expect any less from Dr. Degrasse Tyson. He is the reason I decided to join MasterClass. Wonderful journey! Most appreciated class. Thank you.