My advisor has worked with MAST
here in the UK, and the department has links with both machines and ITER. They run us undergrads through a decent amount of the physics, so if anyone has questions as to the workings of the beasts, I should be able to answer them. Mostly deal with the Tokamaks (the word is in my spellcheck dictionary), but the principles are similar in spherical magnetic containment (MCF) reactors like MAST, and I've gone into Inertial Confinement
(ICF), which is what HiPER looks like, in the past as well.
Looking at the communication stuff from the inside, most physicists seem to prepare what amounts to a stump speech. Find a few key facts and figures, complete with weird units (prices in Iraq war minutes, forces in Jumbo Jets, electrical power in Paris/days, etc) then mix them in with a technical description crafted to the audience. A lot of the people involved have a lot of passion for the projects and technology, but getting the ideas across is tough. See Greenpeaces position for an example. They seem to think that fusion would cause more nuclear proliferation, when the products aren't even fissionable, let alone fissile...
And half the audience tunes out...
But yeah, serious communication problems.
As for the tech side, while fusion is still 'fifty' (25-40 really) years away, the clock has been started now. There is a roadmap
towards getting things burning that simply didn't exist ten years ago for lack of direction. Assuming there is someone to fit the bill (zeroed funding in the USA ATM) then it will happen.