I reckon that every scientist should be able to explain his or her work to any audience, in any situation. Whether it is a 30 second conversation with a six year old with the aid of a pencil and paper, an oral presentation to the general public (a la cafe scientifique), or a detailed effort using all the functionality of Microsoft Powerpoint at a specialist conference, it should be possible to convey meaning to your audience. In fact, if I'm feeling brave, I would go as far as to suggest that if a scientist is unable to do this, it is an indication that he or she does not understand the topic him- or herself.
In the last week or so, I've been enthralled by the competition 'The3is in Three' that the university is running. Rules are simple: It is open to students undertaking a PhD (any subject at all), and the student has to explain his or her research in three minutes with the aid of one powerpoint slide. Don't think it can be done? Well, from what I've seen, yes it can, and very well too. Heats have been running in the last couple of weeks, with the final being a grand affair on the evening of the 28 October. It promises to be a first-rate evening. Five thousand dollars for the winner is enough to get almost every student motivated.