Nuclear projects are controversial, making them difficult to manage because of complex stakeholder concerns. Lack of public confidence risks undermining global deployment of nuclear at the scale needed to address energy and climate challenges. Widespread ideological opposition to nuclear energy creates investor uncertainty, political risk and drives up cost. This means it is not enough for nuclear new build projects to have a robust design and solid business plan. Nuclear proponents need to develop social intelligence to be successful at stakeholder engagement. The nuclear sector’s public outreach method has traditionally relied on scientists, engineers and other nuclear professionals to “educate” the public, using what is known as the “deficit model” of communication – a technique that assumes the need to transfer technical knowledge to the public in order to convince them to support nuclear technology. Unfortunately, evidence shows that this technique is largely ineffective, and can even backfire. Nuclear advocates must instead shift from this traditional deficit model toward an “engagement model” for communications and outreach. In an engagement model, trust and credibility are recognised as being vital to the success of socially controversial projects. Attitudes are informed by values and cultural world-view, so how an issue is framed, and by whom, can strongly affect how an issue is perceived. Resources and emphasis should therefore be given to building and nurturing strong stakeholder relationships to build coalitions of support. This presentation synthesises some of the best available social science research, whilst offering practical advice about how to apply it.