Just one notch below the Home Runs!, these presentations are superb at demonstrating one or more principles of effective communication.
Climate communicator extraordinaire Dr. Richard Alley (Penn State) gave this 90 minute screencast for a workshop by CLEAN (Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network) on June 7, 2011.
Many of his points may be familiar, from his other lectures and "Earth: The Operators Manual") but here you can see it in a slideshow format. Better yet, he's made his actual slides available for use by educators. You can download the .ppt file at Tools/Slides & Graphics/Richard Alley's slideshow for CLEAN
NSF shows great improvement with "To What Degree?", a series of short, fast-moving video segments that tell the climate story, from start to finish. It's a virtual short-course on global warming, produced in a classy, NOVA-like style that intersperses action videos and arresting graphics with zoomed-in shots of top climate scientists speaking very personally, directly to the camera.
Short on numbers and jargon, long on images, the series explains climate in plain, everyday language, using simple charts that everybody can quicly grasp.
The series byline is "Leading climate change experts discuss one of the most complex scientific puzzles ever to confront humankind." And many of the clips -- beyond the introductory ones -- are still dominated by talking heads giving mini lectures (see Randy Olsen's "The Nerd Loop").
Still it's a big step in the right direction for a major science agency.
Kate A. from Winnipeg began blogging about climate when she was only 16, "simply to keep herself sane" but at the same time "hopes that she'll be able to spread accurate information about climate change far and wide."
Now in college, studying climate science, she's managed admirably to accomplish both goals. Her writing on climate is compelling and precise. If you didn't know already you'd be shocked to discover how young she is.
Kate illustrates better than almost any climate blogger I can think of, the principle of "voice." When addressing any audience, you need to speak in your own "voice." When you do, it has the "thud of authenticity" that immediately grabs an audience's attention.
But authenticity is just the beginning of finding your "voice". . .
Ducks Unlimited is devoted to just one thing: duckhunting. But that requires having lots of ducks available, which in turn requires healthy habitat.
Every duckhunter knows that duck habitat is increasingly threatened by development, water-quality problems and climate-driven sea level rise. No clean marshes => no ducks => no duckhunters.
We include this short video, from Ducks Unlimited, primarily to highlight the importance of the identify of the messenger, which is at least as important as effective messaging. It's not so easy to stereotype and dismiss hunters as tree-huggers or ivory-tower eggheads.
We all are far more likely to be open to new information if it comes from a source we trust, who shares our values and likely has our best interests in mind. Ideally, the climate messenger will be a peer that the audience identifies with. When that's not possible, you can sometimes bring such a messenger "into the room" via videos, graphics, quotes, etc. to get the discussion going: "What did you think about what so-and-so had to say?"
Dr. Richard Alley -- a climate communications superstar -- has generously posted the slides that he used in an online workshop for climate communicators. Many of the slides are not useful for general audiences -- some are too dense, others too "wordy" -- but some are terrific. Check out #24 and #25, the Muir Glacier before and after. Click the orange icon below to download the actual powerpoint slideset.
This short-course, taught perhaps at a high-school senior or college freshman level, is a fun, painless way to brush up on the most important basics of climate science.
Each section has a quick quiz at end; if you just want to test your knowledge, you can skip to the quizzes (no score is kept!).
It's a useful way for communicators who lack formal training in climate science to brush up and to identify gaps in their knowledge. When you are finished, you may feel more confidence that you have the "bases covered."
And it's actually rather fun, in a geeky way!