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Farmers must learn to communicate better if they want to influence the debate about food

PUBLISHED: 13:39 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 08 May 2019

Susie Emmett of Green Shoots Productions

Susie Emmett of Green Shoots Productions

Green Shoots Productions

Farmers must make the most of every chance to communicate and captivate an audience, says Norfolk-based farming filmmaker SUSIE EMMETT of Green Shoots Productions.

Farmers have been urged to make the most of opportunities to communicate to audiences like this one at the 2019 Norfolk Farming Conference. Picture: Keiron TovellFarmers have been urged to make the most of opportunities to communicate to audiences like this one at the 2019 Norfolk Farming Conference. Picture: Keiron Tovell

How many times have you heard it's important that farmers communicate better?

I haven't just heard that, I've watched it. I've felt it - with sadness and frustration - at each and every opportunity missed to show and share. That's what inspires and drives me to share practical tips for how to reach and influence your audience.

Communication counts. That's the short of it. Those that do it well know the benefits. You can inform, persuade, explain and inspire. You can advise, reassure, and sell as well.

Ask a roomful of farming professionals, as I often do, for a show of hands if you've recently been bored by a presentation or meeting. The overwhelming answer is there in a forest of upheld arms. Too many of us are being bored by presenters who cannot be bothered to be interesting, let alone engaging or thought-leading.

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Measure the professional time in that meeting or conference room wasted. Convert that to cash to realise the unacceptably heavy cost of a communications culture when boredom is the new norm.

But help is at hand for those who want to improve. Be mindful of your audience's interests and what (three) messages you want them to take away and use. Use props - real ones, rather than prop yourself up with a screen showing some over-stuffed slides.

Also at hand is digital technology. With our smartphones, we can cascade out our experiences and ideas to influence others; snap a beautiful photo; shoot a compelling short film clip that captures a moment that matters. We can initiate, join, even steer conversation online. Face-to-face we can host inspiring farm walks, give great talks and answer questions.

I have an extra communications spring in my step, touring with the Speak Out Roadshow with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).

From Dartmoor to Dundee, from Bangor to Holkham - I am running training sessions that share the top tips and techniques to be a better communicator. You can sign up for a place at the Norfolk event to get inspired and equipped.

Part of the answer to all of the challenges contemporary farming faces is communicating better. So, what are you waiting for?

- The Norfolk event for the LEAF Speak Out Roadshow is at the Holkham estate on May 10. For bookings and more information see the LEAF website.

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