How to give unforgettable presentations about your climate plans

Consultancy 5 min read , August 21, 2019

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This post is based on Made to stick by Chip and Dan Heath and The 6 Principles to make your ideas stick by James Le

Presenting your climate plans in such a way that your ideas and actions stick around in de heads of your audience. In a meeting four hours later, they're still thinking about your proposal ... Wouldn't that be a nice skill to have? Wouldn't that allow your city to become more sustainable over time? πŸ‘‡Follow these six easy steps to create sticky ideas with your audience.

In their book "Made to stick", Chip and Dan Heath explain all about their SUCCES method. It all boils down to this acronym. If you want your ideas to resonate for hours or even days within your audience, you should tell Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible and Emotional Stories.

Read on to find out how to do this for each aspect of the method. πŸ‘‡


The first and probably most crucial of all is simplicity. Find a way to strip down your ideas to their core. It's not just about leaving out the irrelevant aspects, it's also about deciding which elements are the most essential.

Think about a lawyer arguing a big case. When he would try to convince the judge and jury with 10 different arguments, they might forget a lot of them. Instead, he needs to focus on the single most important point of his case. His core message. πŸ’‘

Also, communicate your idea in a simple way. Make sure your message is compact and easy-to-grasp. Don't use difficult words or hard language.


Aim to establish a break from the ordinary. Something that your audience didn't expect. That's how you get your audience's attention and how you keep it.

Make your communication unexpected with the following steps :

  1. Find your core message
  2. Figure out what's counter-intuitive about it
  3. Communicate this in an unexpected way

It's the element of surprise that keeps us on the edge of our seats. It makes us pay attention, because we subconsciously want to know why our expectations failed. Look at it as a gap of knowledge that needs to be filled.

It's the same curiosity that can push us to finish reading a bad book or finish watching a bad movie. We simply need to know what happens. πŸ€”


Be concrete in your communication. Instead of using words like "a lot" or "more efficient than before", talk about "double the outcome" or "a 70% increase".

Experiments have shown that humans are more likely to remember concrete nouns over abstract nouns. Providing renewable energy opportunities is abstract, but installing a 3MW wind turbine is concrete.

Making your communication concrete from the start also has the advantage that it allows you to clarify targets that can't be misunderstood. 🎯


For an idea to be sticky, people should believe it's true. People will believe ideas based on authorities. A certain study or renowned organisation claiming that what you're planning is necessary and will guarantee an x% increase in revenues, for example.

πŸ˜“But what if you don't have such an authority for your climate plan? Let's see what your options are then. πŸ‘‡

  • Anti-authority : Make use of the exact opposite proof. For example damage due to floods in a nearby city to prove that implementing adaptation measures for this will save your city money.
  • Details : More details improve the credibility of your plan or idea. Even when the details aren't super relevant.
  • Statistics : These should be used correctly - to illustrate a relationship.
  • The Sinatra test : Frank Sinatra's song "New York, New York" hosts the famous line : "If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere". In other words, organise a pilot project or a test case to prove your point.
  • Testable credentials : Challenge your audience to test your idea themselves.


A basic way to make people remember your idea is to make them care about it, to make sure it matters to them. So the next question is : what matters to people?

πŸ¦•The human's an egosaurus. People matter to themselves and knowing this is good news for you. Now you can make your idea stand out to your crowd. Here's how : πŸ‘‡

  • Stop being analytical : Be empathetic for specific individuals. Appeal to to the person they want to be in the future.
  • The power of associations : Make associations between things within your idea that they might not care about, and the things they do care about.
  • Self-Interest : Use benefits over features. No one cares if you're selling the "best seeds". They do care that they'll have the "best lawns".
    Use "you" throughout your presentation instead of the generic "people".
  • Appealing to identify : Don't just focus on the tangible stuff. It actually pays off to talk about soft aspects such as self-esteem and sense of duty.
Bird in Hand


Stories make ideas sticky. They're basically the superglue of ideas. In fact, when you unwrap your plan or idea through a story, you're automatically also checking off several other boxes on the SUCCES list. They're usually also very concrete, emotional and have unexpected elements. Keeping it simple enough might be the biggest challenge.

Creating the story you want to tell isn't very easy. Before you start, you'll want to decide on which major type of story you want to go for. From then on, let your creativity flow ...

  • The challenge plot : The traditional story of an underdog overcoming obstacles to become successful.
  • The connection plot : The story where a relationship grows to overcome a gap (ethnic, racial, religious, ...). These plots inspire us to want to help others.
  • The creativity plot : The story with someone making a genius mental breakthrough, solving an incredibly hard puzzle, ...

Sources: Made to stick by Chip and Dan Heath, The 6 Principles to make your ideas stick by James Le

πŸ’‘Want to learn more? Check out this awesome short movie πŸŽ₯about how to overcome the so-called curse of knowledge and grab your audience's attention.

FutureproofedCities allows all city services to work together in one online tool to realise more climate actions and communicate them to their citizens.

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