5 tips: talking climate change

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Know your audience.

Messaging that is tailored to an audience goes a long way. You are more likely to elicit a response from someone if you are mindful of who they are and can connect to the core personal values and beliefs they hold.

Knowing your audience can help you craft a more tactful communication platform: if an audience is confronted with scientific evidence that could attack their values and beliefs, they are more likely to reject your claim altogether. That may even strengthen their beliefs.

Touching on what matters to your audience and how they may uniquely be affected by climate change can create entry points for constructive discussions, which eventually may translate into true behavioral change.

Know your claim.

A credible communicator can deliver an air-tight argument, defend it logically, and explain why it is important to their audience. Knowing your counterarguments gives you the chance to respond to your audience’s objections before you’ve even finished making your point.

No matter how prepared you are to defend your claim, remember that people do not connect to abstract notions and raw scientific information. Bombarding an audience with piles of evidence makes for a dry, uninviting communication platform. Instead of focusing on the facts, focus on how you can present them.

Defend it visually.

The power to communicate through visuals could not be understated. In a world where we are presented with an overwhelming amount of information, we are constantly seeking the easiest way to acquire knowledge.

Visuals make the learning and communication process more fluid, and allow people to access complex and abstract notions more easily. As visual creatures, we tend to memorize image-based and colorful content with more ease.

Use images and visuals representations – such as infographics, timelines, charts – to crunch down your data and findings and to present them in an easy, compelling way.

Tell a story.

Stories are another entry-point into the climate conversation. They have the unique ability to help people understand and communicate information through simple narratives. They can engage our emotions and expand our perceptions.

Use your knowledge about your audience’s beliefs and values to craft a story that resonates with them on a personal level. Choose a setting (problem, cause, context) and characters (heroes, villains, or victims) they may relate to and care about.

Focus on solutions.

Framing your message in a positive way is key to inducing behavioral change. Make sure to include practical solutions, share victories, and emphasize on the benefits of climate action. An audience is more receptive to a message that is constructive and motivational rather than one that is negative and fear-inducing.

If your message and tone are alarmist, you must include practical solutions to counteract the negativity and give your audience a sense of empowerment. If you can, make sure your audience walks away with a set of action-items as well.