Minor rant: Know your audience, tailor accordingly… #climate #activism

Okay, no names, but for god’s sake, people who are giving talks on important subjects, often from a position of knowing a lot and/or having moral high ground:  THINK WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO.  Do NOT give your bog-standard intro-to-issue-x to a self-selected audience that has come out on a cold wet night/travelled to the ends of the earth and clearly knows all the basics already.

[breath]

Several times recently (and many more times a few years ago, when I went to more meetings, before I realised what a time/energy/emotional-reserves suck they were) I’ve had the hair-tearing experience of being ego-fodder in a speech where the person giving it has clearly just not thought about who they are trying to engage with.  There’s the basic speech ‘what is x [where x is climate change, climate justice, fracking, whatever] that you would have to give if you were invited to come and speak to a not-active-on-this-issue of, say, the Women’s Institute, the Rotary Club, whatever.  But if you’re speaking to an audience that has made a time and an effort to come from various places (e.g. you’re holding the meeting in mid-Wales and people have come from London), then you can safely assume that they know all that, and that what they’re expecting is your A-game: that you can skip all the intro stuff and get to your most advanced stuff.

I know, presenters are afraid of leaving anyone behind, or perhaps just too busy to do the extra work that making a second presentation would involve, but seriously, this is a waste of people’s time, energy and (in some cases – at least mine) morale.

Also, can we please have as standard at the beginning of talks by people who believe in the necessity of building a climate movement, a network of loosely and also tightly connected individuals and groups, a “please turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself” thing as STANDARD.  Also perhaps do it before the Q and A, to reduce the institutional sexism of meetings.

Here endeth today’s rant.

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