• Greta Thunberg’s communication style is a unique blend of poise and emotion.
  • She doesn’t care much about popularity, knows her facts, and is always focused on her subject.

So What?

Marketers can learn from Thunberg’s authenticity and her unusual communication style, which has commanded global media attention and helped build awareness of climate change for a new generation.

Greta Thunberg’s name has become synonymous with climate change activism, even though she first hit the media spotlight when she was only 15 years old and still in high school. She grabbed the media’s attention by speaking boldly in support of her cause and protesting against what she sees as irresponsible actions that are hurting the environment that her generation will be left with, long after those in leadership today are gone.

Whether you agree with Thunberg or don’t see what all the hype is about, there are some lessons brands can learn from her communication style.

Stay Focused

Nothing deters Thunberg from her message: climate change will ruin the planet by the time her generation grows up. She doesn’t make a lot of effort to get people’s attention, yet media figures seem drawn to her because of the single-minded focus she exhibits each time she speaks or leads a protest.

Some of Thunberg’s focus may come from her Asperger’s syndrome–a form of mild autism–or her obsessive-compulsive disorder or selective mutism. These conditions are seen as handicaps, but Thunberg has made their unique characteristics work for her as she speaks.

In a TED Talk, Thunberg explained why she sees her conditions as a gift: “We aren’t very good at lying, and we don’t normally enjoy participating in the social game that the rest of you seem so fond of.” There is no doubt by anyone who listens to her that she fully believes what she is saying and sees it as the truth.

Communicate with Both Poise and Emotion

Thunberg’s passion for the dangers she sees in climate change and what she wants the world to do about it allows her to put all of her emotions into play when she speaks. At the same time, she speaks in a controlled way. The combination of these two techniques makes for a powerful delivery.

While not everyone resonates with the way Thunberg fearlessly scolds world leaders and tells them they aren’t doing enough about the climate, she is impossible to ignore because of the passion with which she speaks while at the same time remaining composed and logical in her delivery.

Unlike many political speakers, one way Thunberg communicates her passion is by seeking out eye contact with her audience. Although she can’t maintain eye contact with everyone in her large audiences, watching her make eye contact with key audience members makes others present feel her emotion along with her.

Know Your Facts

Too many statistics can be overwhelming and lose their meaning, but at the same time, key statistics can be very convincing when they are kept simple and understandable. Thunberg’s Asperger’s has probably given her an enhanced ability to remember numbers and statistics, so she can call on them sparingly when she needs to do so.

There’s nothing more ineffective than making an assertion and not having information to back it up. This is not a problem for Thunberg, and she has used climate change statistics to her advantage in arguing her point about why world leaders are not doing enough to address climate change.

Eschew Popularity

It isn’t that Thunberg wants to be unpopular or draw criticism for her stark message; it’s just that for her, the truth she believes is far more important than popularity. Undoubtedly, her age combined with her manner of speaking is a big part of why so many pay attention to her, whether they agree with, like her, or not.

As Thunberg grows older, she is bound to face more challenges in getting her message across, but she will not likely face the dilemma of whether to water down her message to avoid alienating people. With her first protest, she decided that her message was more important than her popularity, and she has been unwavering in her determination to get her message out at all costs.

Be Authentic

Whether you agree with Thunberg’s message or not, no one could argue that it is anything but authentic. And audiences will always place significant value on authenticity.

Thunberg is authentic in the consistency of her message and the sincere belief that something needs to be done to fix the climate. She doesn’t ever look like she’s “trying” to convince anyone or to “sell” her message to the public.

Brush Off Criticism

Thunberg has been a target of intense criticism and even mocking from the other side of the political aisle, as is typical for anyone with a controversial or political message. But she has been able to shrug off the criticism better than many adults and has not let it deter her from her message.

“When haters go after your looks and differences,” she tweeted in 2019, “it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers, and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And — given the right circumstances — being different is a superpower.”

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