• Ben Finzel

The Common Sense Colloquy One Year Later – “The Best Communications Advice I’ve Given To Others”

Updated: Mar 3, 2019


Today, I’m continuing the celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Common Sense Colloquy, my monthly Q&A series in which I pose questions about communications to influential energy and environmental leaders from diverse backgrounds and experiences from finance to policy and business to advocacy. I’ve had the good fortune to work with many of our participants and I was thrilled to benefit again from the advice, perspective and experience they shared in this series.

In the first year of the Common Sense Colloquy, I shared insights from one leader each month. Yesterday, I shared the answer each one of these twelve people gave to one of our two “standard” questions: what’s the best advice about communications you’ve received? Today, I’m sharing the answers each person provided to the second of our two “standard” questions: what’s the best advice about communications you’ve given to others?

You’ll notice several similarities in their answers, and a focus on facts, transparency and respect. Talk about common sense! Thanks to all of our participants for sharing their wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Dan Reicher, Stanford University: "Anticipate and address what folks on the other side of an issue will argue, be respectful of a reporter’s time, and be ready to suggest other sources."

  • Bill Richardson: "I’ll list my top four: 1. Respect the other person’s culture and identity. 2. Let the other side save face. 3. Let the other side take credit. 4. Know where you want to end up."

  • Kateri Callahan, Dynamic Energy Strategies: "Check your facts. It may seem superfluous in this political moment where no one seems to care about the truth, but in my experience, successful advocacy hinges on having good, hard and credible data to support the case you are making."

  • Julio Friedmann, Carbon Wrangler: "God gave us two ears and one mouth. Communications works best when you listen to who you’ve engaged and attempt to understand them."

  • Katherine Hamilton, 38 North Solutions: "I tell young people that the most important skill they can have is to be able to write well. I spent a lot of time doing engineering and technical work and, yet, writing always trumped math. Read good writing and practice writing—and you will in time become a good writer."

  • Jason Grumet, Bipartisan Policy Center: "1) Talk, don’t read. I am always amazed when incredibly capable people put slides on a screen and read them to an audience. 2) Provide a framework for presentations. “Today, I want to discuss 3 topics…” People retain 3x information if they know where a speaker is heading. 3) It is possible to be substantive and entertaining."

Common sense can be applicable in many different kinds of situations. I hope that’s the case for you with this terrific insight from our friends who joined us for Year One of this Q&A series.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our favorite comments from each of our twelve participants in Year One of the Common Sense Colloquy.



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