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Why we asked a magician to speak at our environmental communication conference

Communicate is the annual conference for environmental communication professionals, running each year in Bristol, UK, since 2004. Find out more about the conference at www.communicatenow.org.uk.

Conference, workshop, symposium, webinar or conference call? Bringing together professionals from different sectors and organisations is a huge undertaking of logistics, curation and partnership for any organisation.

Since 2004, The Natural History Consortium has been running the Communicate conference, bringing together a cross-section of NGO’s, policy-makers, academics, media content developers, and green businesses to explore the latest tools and techniques for engaging a wide range of audiences with environmental content.

As I described in my last blog, we listened to our community to create this year’s programme, The Art of the Possible. With over 5 weeks before the event, we were thrilled to sell out of conference passes, and knew that we had really touched a nerve in the community about wanting to make positive progress for nature and people, in the midst of such uncertain times.

As always we have reached out far and wide to invite a range of people from both inside and outside the environmental sector to inspire and challenge our delegates. We’re careful not to just pack the programme with CEO’s, knowing that the innovative ideas can come from any level – and any sector.

One of the big themes that came out of our consultation workshops was ‘effective storytelling’. Surely environmental communicators were already some of our very best storytellers, regularly creating new and engaging narratives for audiences? But again and again we heard from across the UK the importance of returning to the basic structures of compelling narratives to try to reach new people in different ways.

We talk a lot in the environmental communication sector about the importance of evidence, statistics, standards, engaging business and policy-makers, bringing Natural Capital to life and making the case for nature. But we also had a hunch that “The Art of the Possible” also meant bringing back awe and wonder about the intrinsic value of nature back into to our storytelling.

So we invited a magician.

We loved Matt Pritchard’s TedX talk, where he encouraged audiences to linger on the ‘wow’ before jumping to the ‘how’. Could an idea like this re-energise busy, under-resourced, but passionate environmental communicators, who are still trying to bring many issues into the mainstream?

We can’t wait to find out. If you’re not attending this year, sign up for the free newsletter and we’ll let you know when the presentations are online. This might just be one of our best ideas yet…

 Find out more about Matt Pritchard at http://www.sciencemagicshows.co.uk/

 Tickets are available for the Effective Storytelling session at https://www.bnhc.org.uk/communicate/day-1-effective-storytelling/