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Greta Thunberg and the art of starting a conversation

Activists like Greta Thunberg are changing perceptions of young speakers, and the world is taking note - says Speakers Corner MD Nick Gold.


The Extinction Rebellion.

It’s been the talk of the city this weekend. Thousands of protestors have lined streets, blocked bridges, and danced with the police in the name of climate change. 800 of those people were willing to be arrested in the process.

The protests peaked this weekend when Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the youth climate movement, spoke out to the collective at Marble Arch in London.

Her messages were clear – we need to choose a new path, and we need to choose it now, to protect our futures and the futures of our children and grandchildren. Her applause and following was stellar, and the atmosphere on the streets in London this weekend was almost festival-like.

The impact of the Extinction Rebellion, and indeed Thunberg, as a face and voice of a movement, is colossal. But not just for the reasons we might think.

Greta Thunberg has facilitated a conversation we otherwise may not have had.

As a speaker, her role goes beyond imparting her own beliefs and offering education on the subject matter. Her speech is a call to action, and an awakening of populations who might not switch on to the issue unless provoked.

Thunberg’s impact is reshaping what it truly means to be a speaker. She is extending the role to one that must inspire their audience to make the desired change, encouraging them to have thoughts they haven’t previously had.

The Extinction Rebellion have power in numbers, but the value of an external voice, through Thunberg, elevated the campaign’s purpose significantly. As an external speaker, Thunberg progressed the cause of the activist group, solidifying their credibility, and paving new pathways for future development.

The same rationale can be applied to almost any area. If we take business, for example. A company might have a strategy, or just an idea about where they want to move to in the future. They might have a few people on board, helping to spread the message of the changes. But nothing elevates their growth quite like having an external speaker enter the room, and single-handedly bind the audience together under a common purpose.

The very best speakers, like Greta Thunberg, will leave an audience attuned to considering new ideas once left unturned. They will provoke the desire to push for change.

This weekend wasn’t just the peak of a climate movement protest. It was the turning point for speaking more broadly. It is not enough to simply relay messages anymore. Speakers must open new doors for discussion and encourage individuals to strive for change.