Climate Change Speaker Training, London & Oxford, UK

This is a one day course to help anyone speak confidently about this critical issue. They really do mean anyone too as there is not too much jargon, doom or gloom or happy clapping and head-in-the-sand stuff. The event was jointly organised by the Climate Outreach Information Network (www.coinet.org.uk) and Talk Action (www.talkaction.org.uk). The cost was very reasonable and a good mix of people showed up from around the UK and Europe. For example I was lunching with an anarchist and practicing my speaking with a French artist, activists from Portsmouth / London and a local government official who was into bio-gas (Sheffield).

The venue was a remarkable 12th century church in the heart of Londons financial district called St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace (www.stethelburgas.org). The centre was ideally situated (next to Liverpool Street station) and suitable for the number of participants – about 35. The main speaker Duncan has been instrumental in setting up an initiative called Transition Towns (www.transitiontowns.org) which are communities based on a ‘more localised post-peak-oil future’. Duncan was helped out by a freelance workshop facilitator and artist called Anita from Bristol, UK.

The course is based around a template talk which was emailed to participants prior to the event. The template contains about 8 sections covering various aspects of CC that you might like to mention depending on your particular background / interest and audience. The sections included approximate timings and leave enough time for an open discussion at the end. Before starting on the template we were asked to think about what makes a bad or good speaker etc. with Duncan acting out the role of a bad speaker for a laugh.

Along with the template we were given supplementary information including examples of difficult questions and how to overcome them. Avoiding confrontation and negativity along with how to move people and motivate them to your particular cause. As you might expect there was also plenty of factual information to back-up what you are saying and to include it in the talk wherever you see fit We did not dwell on the science or get bogged down in treaties etc. The talk was aimed more towards the social and environmental consequences i.e. issues that affect real people rather than politicians. In fact quite a few people there were distrusting of governments and political solutions. It seems that the future of the planet is in our hands and this is the message we have to spread to those not already listening.

The event ran from 10 am to 4.30 pm but we did not seem to have enough time at the end and dashed through the how to host an open discussion with your audience. At the very end we were encouraged to tell the group what action we will be taking in the next week towards meeting our goal of publicly speaking about climate change. By the end of it I was feeling quite confident and am going to arrange something back home in Bournemouth, UK on 12th May. Quite how this goes remains to be seen but it is a testament to the course that I now feel confident enough to stand-up and be heard on the topic.

As the guy sitting next to me said in section 5 The Need To Take Action – ‘there are so many reasons for us to take immediate action now, but for me the main reason is that future generations just won’t have the chance’. So I have 10 days to re-work the template into my own words and deliver it as smoothly as I can – watch this space!

See Climate Change Talk at the Bournemouth Fire Festival

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