Passionate about conservation? Want to get other people excited about conservation? That is an awesome goal.. but where do you start?? Future posts will go into more detail, but below is a list of 5 key strategies to keep in mind when talking to friends, family, or others to get them excited about ocean conservation!
1. Know Your Audience
Are you casually talking to a friend on a lunch date? Are you working with a marine biologist in your career? Are you writing an essay on current political topics? Are you teaching your kids about sea critters?
No matter the situation, you can have effective conversations about ocean conservation. However, it is crucial that you know your audience. What I mean by that is you need to tailor your conversation to who you are speaking with. For example, skipping jargon when teaching simple topics to children is wise, but using jargon may be crucial to effectively communicate complex environmental concerns with the lead biologist at work.
Future posts will go into detail about how to effectively tailor your conversations to different audiences, but for now common sense can help steer you in the right direction.
2. Know Your Story
Conversations can take many different forms. Some can last hours, while others last a few minutes at most. Attempting to tackle all of ocean conservation in one conversation is not only impossible, but can also come off as pushy, arrogant, or overwhelming to whoever you are speaking with.
It is important that you choose one interesting topic to start with, and allow the conservation to take whatever direction naturally occurs. This may be going into the intricate details of that initial topic, or skimming the surface of many different topics. You want to inspire people to join the conservation movement, not scare them away from it!
3. Pictures Speak a Thousand Words
Everybody loves looking at adorable animals, beautiful landscapes, or unique photography. This is an easy way to draw people into the plethora of magnificent flora and fauna that the ocean holds. It is an excellent, non-controversial, way to spark a conservation about ocean conservation with almost any audience. Trust me… everyone loves cool pictures.
4. Avoid Controversial Topics… at First
Most conservation topics are not controversial (I mean who doesn’t want our beaches clear of trash?). Most people are simply unaware of conservation topics and would love the opportunity to learn more and become involved.
However, there are a subset of conservation topics that are extremely controversial (climate change and fishing policies for example). Most people have preconceived (and sometimes completely uneducated) opinions on these topics, and improper initiation of this type of conversation is a great way to start unnecessary arguments and have extremely unproductive conversations. I will post another blog on how to have effective controversial conversations.
For now I will simply warn you, tread lightly. This is something you need to ease into.
5. Make it a Conversation, Not a Lecture
Most people like to talk more than they like to listen, and absolutely nobody likes to feel like they are being lectured. Sometimes conservation conversations can start to sound like a lecture if you only spew fact after fact about polar bear populations declining because of melting ice. They will get bored, stop paying attention, may feel attacked, or even get offended that you think they don’t know polar bears are in trouble (because “everyone knows that, obvi” they will say).
The most effective way to talk to others about something is to incorporate their opinions, questions, and comments into the conversation. This way, they will become actively engaged in the conversation, and feel like they have ownership of deciding if this is a topic they want to care about.
Lastly, it goes without saying that the most important part of effective communicating is staying enthusiastic and having a killer positive attitude! People can’t help but get passionate about topics they see others getting excited about!
Any other suggestions? Comment below!
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