How do you get people to change the world? The world is changing already, with and without our help… climate change, population, consumption, and extinction are all on the rise. But… imagine if every academic environmental scientist could communicate why their science matters – to the public, policy makers, journalists, and their own communities – now that would change the world!
I posed that thought to over 200 environmental experts – academics, journalists, pundits, activists, decision makers, futurists, and citizens – gathered in our plenary at the 2012 Aspen Environmental Forum entitled, “How to Get People to Change the World.” With all this change, what we were really there to discuss was: What does it mean to be living in “the new normal?” Thought-leaders pointed out the many problems and challenges we’re facing, but they also kept the mood upbeat with the inclusion of bright spots, solutions and constructive discussion about how to chart the course ahead. And, in my plenary in particular, how communications and leadership are critical to shaping it.
My topic was “Communicate Like a Leader” and the link between communications and leadership. Communications is central to the enterprise of “would-be” change agents – whether breaching the boundaries of disciplines or expertise, or amassing votes, or mobilizing action. Good communicators can articulate a vision, focus a debate, and cut to the essence of their argument. They can make their points compelling – even to those who disagree. And they can make people sit up, take notice, and care. They know how to reach their audience by making it personal, addressing the “so what?” and speaking from the heart. We experienced this first hand with the brilliant roster of speakers. [Read more…]