Dr. Stephen Schneider (1945-2010) was the first distinguished climate scientist to make speaking to the public a top priority and to stress the importance, when entering the media fray, of arming oneself with clear, compelling soundbites based on concrete metaphors.
In an interview, shortly before his untimely death in 2010, Schneider said this:
Q: What advice would you give a scientist just starting out [in public speaking]?
A: First, have your soundbite. Have it based on metaphors that convey both urgency and uncertainty.
Second, have a hierarchy of backup products…(continued at FAQ/Why Soundbites Matter)
In this 12-minute video by Stephen Thompson (Plomomedia), Schneider demonstrates both his courage to “tell it like it is” and his knack for making complex ideas concrete and accessible. Last week, Climate One played this video during the award ceremony for Richard Alley, recipient of the first Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Communication.
It is a moving tribute to a true pioneer in climate communication.