suzanne whitby: what I can offer
“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”
—Pippi Longstocking, in Astrid Lindgren’s popular children’s books.
This is my favorite quote at the moment and it pretty much sums up my attitude to life, too. I am a life-long learner, endlessly curious, and constantly coming up with new and interesting ways to co-create hopeful, sustainable futures.
The result? I have a colourful set of “superpowers” or skills that I bring together to bring projects, ideas, and solutions to life. If you want to work, play or explore together, here’s what I can offer.
SUPERPOWER 4: Facilitation, moderation & hosting
As a professional facilitator, my role is to help groups come together, have rich and open discussions, and provide them with guidance and structure to help them achieve their goals.
SUPERPOWER 5: Storytelling
I am a professional oral storyteller and I use stories and storytelling in a variety of ways, including in science communication, to co-create hopeful futures, in my research, to facilitate groups, and, simply to entertain.
SUPERPOWER 7: Talks, keynotes & speaking
Are you looking for an engaging, high-energy speaker for a conference or an event? I talk about communication, community, climate change, sustainability, the circular economy, urban walking, sensory experiences, and storytelling.
SUPERPOWER 8: Knowing when to stop
Superpower 1: Communication – all sorts
Clear, authentic, audience-focused communication is at the heart of everything that I do and feeds into all of my other superpowers.
I have nearly 25 years of international experience in communication of all sorts— strategic and marketing, internal and external, science and research, climate and sustainability, interpersonal and intercultural, digital and online, experiential and in-person, PR and events… You name it, and I am likely to be able to help, or know someone who can.
Where I use this:
- Whitby’s: a sustainability and climate change communication consultancy
- SciComm Success: communication training & strategic support for scientists, researchers and research organisations
Some background: In 2004, I started Future Makers, a successful creative communication agency with a presence in the UK, Austria, South Africa and the USA. I worked with hundreds of organisations and business owners, from solopreneurs to growing businesses, and multi-nationals to international non-profits and intergovernmental organisations, building brands and strategies and campaigns, and creating websites and artwork and marketing content as part of their consulting creative team.
I loved this but I have a strong training and facilitation streak in me (see below) and in 2005, I found myself doing some associate work for a few companies as a communications consultant and I started Whitby’s. Over the years, I offered a mix of strategic support, consulting, training, and coaching, focusing on internal communication, stakeholder and marketing communication, interpersonal and intercultural communication. In 2012, after becoming a Pachamama “Awakening the Dreamer” facilitator, I started to focus more on working with organisations who wanted communication support relating to sustainability and climate change initiatives.
In 2014, I created SciComm Success to offer communication training and insights to scientists and researchers as I spotted a need to help them share their science in ways that non-experts can understand.
Superpower 2: Sustainability and climate communication & education
In addition to helping others with their sustainability and climate communication, I am actively involved in raising awareness about sustainability, climate change, sustainable communities, and hopeful futures. I design and facilitate interactive, participatory workshops that build understanding, prompt thought and discussion, and encourage action.
Where I use this:
- SHIFT: sustainability in business, the circular economy and climate awareness training, plus facilitated workshops, for businesses
- klimafit: Carbon Literacy training, Climate Fresk workshops, Circular Economy workshops, deep time walks, and more for non-business/corporate organisations – in Austria
Some background: I started doing this informally in 2012 with the Pachamama Alliance, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I decided to become more active in this area, partly inspired by the stories I heard from scientists in my training programmes, and partly inspired by the actions of the then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg.
I offer custom-designed programmes and talks about sustainability, climate change, the circular economy, biodiversity, value-based communication, hopeful futures, and how to communicate about climate and sustainability. I am also a facilitator of:
- Celemi Sustainability™
- Climate Fresk
- The Circular Economy Collage
- EN Roads Climate Simulator
- Carbon Literacy Training
- Awakening the Dreamer
- Deep Time Walk
Superpower 3: Trainer, teacher, educator
What is training but communicating in a particular way to help other people build knowledge?! I love helping people to learn new ideas and skills. My approach is high-energy and facilitative and I am a great choice if you want people to “learn by doing” rather than “death by lecture”.
I design and deliver learning programmes and interactive workshops for online and in-personal groups, with topics that include: practical communication skills, the science of science communication, overcoming bias, marketing and communication, WordPress, the senses, storytelling, workshop design, facilitation, podcasting, networking, writing, small business marketing, climate, sustainability, the circular economy, and more.
Where to find my training offerings:
- I post public courses in my events calendar.
Some background: I am in the enviable situation of being endlessly curious and a fast learner. My first experience of training began when I worked in corporate world as a project manager, helping my engineering team to build more customer-focused communication skills. I have trained hundreds of businesses in marketing skills, thousands of professionals and scientists in practical and interpersonal skills, and hundreds of individuals in a weird and wonderful mix of theories, skills, and material.
I am told that I am a good teacher, that I “empower” people (not my words!). I love it when someone walks away from my workshops with the confidence to do—or at least try to do—something new!
Superpower 4: Facilitation, moderation and event hosting
Did you know that the word “facilitate” comes from the early 17th century and means to make an action or process easy? It comes from the French faciliter, from Italian facilitare, from facile ‘easy’, from Latin facilis.
I am a professional facilitator and moderator and I am skilled at chairing, hosting and moderating live events, panels, conferences and workshops virtually and in person. I have a particular interest and expertise in facilitating virtual/online events designed to increase accessibility and reduce CO2 emissions.
I work with a diverse range of businesses and organisations on their live and digital events programmes and depending on what’s needed, I can:
- provide practical advice on tools and event design
- moderate panels, fireside chats, roundtables, and group discussions
- conduct interviews and write thought-leadership pieces and white papers
- design and produce pre-event, during-event, and post-event content
- provide training and coaching for participants
- support the events team as an outsourced, on-demand resource
In-person, onsite events have great value, but flying thousands of people around the world has a big impact on time, money, waste, and climate disruption. With that in mind, wherever possible I bring my experience and practical skills to support online events, with a view to making them as engaging, as interesting, as valuable, and as valued as in-person events.
I do this across all my businesses and activities, including Meeting Innovators, SciComm Success, Ziyadliwa, SHIFT, and klimafit, as well as in my podcasts.
Superpower 5: Storytelling
Since 2010, I have been a professional storyteller. Initially, my interest in storytelling was primarily in the wonder of oral performance and the delight I found in traditional tales, myths, folk tales and legends.
Over the years, my perception of stories and storytelling has developed and matured and I now use stories and storytelling in a variety of ways, including in science communication, to co-create hopeful futures, in my research, to facilitate groups, and, yes, simply to entertain.
Where I do this:
- Ziyadliwa: my professional storytelling persona
- SciComm Success: storytelling workshops for scientists and researchers
- Whitby’s: in talking about sustainability and climate communication
- In my sustainability and climate workshops for businesses and groups
- In my research
Some background: in 2010 I was living in Boulder, Colorado, and I attended a SIETAR Conference on intercultural communication. Of the sessions that I attended was about using story in intercultural communication. The person who opened the session, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten (although I can see him in my mind’s eye!) opened by saying, “Hi, my name is… and I am a professional storyteller.” My immediate thoughts were, “Ooh, what’s that?” and “Ooh, I want to be able to introduce myself as a professional storyteller!” I immersed myself in the subject, attended conferences, read books, learned from people wiser than myself, and started telling stories. The rest, as they say, is history…
Superpower 6: Mentoring, accountability, moving things along
I don’t quite know how to describe this superpower. It has a mentoring aspect to it, where I listen to others and offer suggestions and guidance, but it also has an active aspect to it, where I ask probing questions to help people find answers, come up with ideas, and remove blocks (facilitation of some sort). I am not a coach, I fear—counsellor, coach and therapist are worlds away from my approach—and I also offer my own ideas and challenges, and then, help people keep moving forward, either with regular accountability sessions, or by helping them do (or learn to do) the stuff that’s needed to keep the momentum going.
This involves a bit of active listening, brainstorming and ideation, problem solving, tackling blocks, building skills and confidence, getting stuff done, and keeping it going. Oh, and lots of excitement and enthusiasm and support.
Where I do this:
Some background: this is just part of who I am and how I “am” in the world and with the people I am fortunate enough to meet. For some it’s a blessing, for others, a curse: I am still working on myself to stop offering unsolicited advice and excitement!
Superpower 7: Talks, keynotes & speaking
Are you looking for an engaging, high-energy speaker for a conference or an event? Do you want to offer a short, sharp burst of inspiration? Do you want to offer your school or students a new perspective or idea? I offer talks and keynotes for online and in-the-room audiences on a variety of topics, including:
- Co-creating sustainable futures
- Climate change and solutions
- The circular economy
- Clear narratives for a better future
- How to talk about hard topics like climate change, biodiversity, and sustainability
- The first generation
- Better communication through a nature-based communication framework
- How communication works, why it fails, and how to fix it
- Non-verbal communication
- Intercultural communication
- Cognitive biases, the problem with distance and how to connect around challenging topics
- Why science communication matters
- Choose the story, change yourself/your life/the world
- The provoking story
- Narrative frameworks
- The power of traditional tales (and their relevance today)
- Stories in the real world: applied story and societal change
- Sensory experiences
- Living with all your senses
- The joy of urban walks
- Experience design
- The power of participation
Many of these topic interconnect and overlap. I’d love to design a talk just for you!