Vivid, Personalized, Credible, Empowering Communication

What is this Tool?

Communication that is:

  • Full of the vigour and freshness of immediate experience, evoking lifelike images that are heard, seen, or felt as if they were real;
  • Custom-tailored for the person or people receiving the message;
  • Readily believed; and
  • Empowering and helps the person or people receiving the message to make the desired changes in behavior.
  • Please note that the text below has yet to be updated to include more advice on "credible" and "empowering".

Why Would You Use It?

  • Vivid, personalized, credible, empowering information is more likely to be noticed, remembered and acted on.

When Would You Use It?

  • Whenever possible.

How Would You Use It?

1. Identify the key motivators and barriers for the desired activity.


When participants expressed concern to The Environment Network's home advisors about the effectiveness of the alternative cleaning products they were promoting, these concerns were addressed directly. In addition, such comments were used to identify people who might be motivated by concerns about cleanliness and hygiene.

Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled used a telephone survey to determine why people were not buying more recycled-content products.

Marley Station Mall focused on the two most common motivators for exercising - health benefits and weight control.

During Green$avers EnerGuide For Houses visits a blower door test was integrated, because air leakage was considered to be the most serious area of energy loss, and the most effective and noticeable way to improve comfort and savings on energy bills.

Tip: See also the Tools Building Motivation Over Time and Overcoming Specific Barriers.

Tip: With face-to-face approaches you can look for clues and ask questions that identify the most important motivators and barriers for each person you contact. Train your program implementers to do this.

Your Program

Please refer to the step-by-step instructions for identifying motivators and barriers in Getting Informed

Make a list. Motivators:
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2. Appeal to these motivators and show how to overcome these barriers in ways that evoke strong lifelike images.


Residents in Claremont were told: "Californians alone produce some 40 million tons of refuse a year - enough to fill a two-lane highway ten feet deep from Oregon to the Mexican border. Currently, the average person in the U.S. produces about 1,300 pounds of solid municipal waste a year. Most of this trash goes into landfills, and if present trends continue, nearly all of L.A. County will be without refuse disposal capacity by 1991."

One year, The Clean Air Commute used an ASFX E8 license plate as a backdrop for its press conference, to highlight the link to air quality.

When The Environment Network's home advisors found people who seemed particularly motivated by concerns about cleanliness and hygiene, they asked them to consider the link between their water supply and household hazardous wastes spilled down the drains and toilets in their homes.

Go Boulder's "Non-Polluting Commuter Race" pitted cyclists against motorists in a cross-town competition, to demonstrate the convenience of riding a bicycle. Three opponent pairs (three cyclists and three motorists) were given simple tasks or errands to run en route to the finish line. Both motorists and cyclists were required to park legally and obey all traffic laws. Every year the bicyclists won.

Tip: Use images that are as close as possible to the experience of the person or people with whom you are communicating.

Tip: If you are talking about something that is intangible, make it more tangi-ble. If the person does not have much experience with it, relate it to something with which they have more experience.

Tip: Use as many senses as you can since some people are more auditory, others more visual, others more kinesthetic.

Tip: Make comparisons with well- known landmarks.

Tip: As of 2021, personal experiences now bridge moral and political divides better than facts. Reference.

Tip: People are more likely to adhere to your recommendations if they hear them (auditory) rather than read them (visual) Reference.

See also the Tool School Programs that Involve the Family.

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Get In the Loop image
Cover of the Shade Trees for Guelph brochure.

Your Program

For each of the motivators and barriers listed in step 1, how might you do the following?

Link to activities people are already doing:
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Describe the full effect of combining many small, contributing factors:
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Use bar or pie charts to illustrate statistics and other numbers and make the charts "come alive" by using vivid icons as labels:
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use descriptions to illustrate statistics and other numbers:
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