Communicate 2013: Stories for Change

A Bristol based Environmental communication event. I was really happy to be awarded one of five NERC funded bursaries to cover the £300 registration fees, which enabled me to attend.


The future belongs to the people who tell the best stories.

The two days had a mix of interactive, lecture style,  panel conversation and workshop presentations. Particularly memorable was the Harvest Media presentation on the anatomy of a story. They were spontaneous and yet polished and no-one could tell whether they had done it thousands of times before, or were brilliant at improvising. I really, really understood from that talk that we identify with a character when we can fill in the gaps. Give your audience too much, and they feel disempowered and can’t make it up for themselves, which is what engages them.

I also really liked the workshop by Chris Holmes, who talked about how we can engage with people so that they change their behaviours. He talked about capacity, opportunity and motivation. More more to the point that we need relatedness, (growing) competence, and autonomy to really feel that something is part of who we are.

A couple of talks about videos caught my interest. One about simple, authentic ‘digital stories’ which are voice over stills or short video clips, around 2 – 3 minutes. More sophisticated approaches to film were discussed on the second day, talking about what makes a great Youtube video. Got me thinking about ‘pub facts’, how you shoot to best effect and how to make it punchy, and the need for hyperbole. Also, surprises and playing on emotions.

Quote of the conference was from one of the brief speakers at the end of the first day:

“the ultimate charismatic megafauna, humanity.”