The ultimate communication skills training

In essence, we take a bunch of agri-professionals and with three days of tips, techniques and tasks in our communication skills training course we help them to bloom.

Communication skills in agriculture have never been more important. But don’t just take our word for it. We hear it from others all the time. It’s why we are always pleased to kick off the New Year by running the John Forrest Memorial Award course supported by two East Anglian farming charities.

This is the ultimate communication skills training course: it builds techniques to present powerfully in person; talk engagingly on farm visits; write seriously or creatively; shine in radio and TV interviews and have a great digital presence on websites, in blogs and through professional use of social media. 

Choose the best, skill them up and they’ll do the rest

As with last year’s group, the successful candidates had a fabulous range of farming experience between them. Professions included farmer, estate worker, researcher, retailer, and educator: probably all the most important links in the farming and food supply chain.

Green Shoots communication skills training
Enjoying dinner and conversation with invited speakers after a day’s tuition and tasks.

Competition for a place on the course is tough. A record number of applications were received for the 2019 course by The Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF), the Felix Thornley Cobbold Agricultural Trust (FTCAT) and NIAB. Applicants are carefully scrutinised to pick the professionals who will make the most of the skills they will gain. 

Listen. Try. Review. Repeat. 

The Green Shoots’ approach to training is simple: make it relevant, challenging, interactive and supportive. We could add that it has to be fast-moving, enjoyable and good-humoured. We could say that all the tutors and invited speakers are leading practitioners in their field. But what’s the most important thing that differentiates the way we work? It’s not about us. It is all about the participants: taking them and their communication skills from where they are on day one and – three days of tips, technique tuition and critiqued tasks later – improving them. Improving them a lot.

Of course, content is king

Through the ten years that we have run this course for the John Forrest Memorial Award the content has evolved. A decade ago it was important to upskill for dealing with media opportunities. In 2019, yes, radio and TV encounters are still important. However, every agri-professional can create their own digital media opportunity and broadcast in the broadest sense: anytime to anyone. As a result the course now adds in masterclasses on how to plan, shoot, edit and use your own film; taking better photos; making best professional use of social media and blogging, to name but a few.

Tips, task, action! The group put their new film-making skills into practice in this film.

Go communicate

After three days hard graft together in communication skills training when the end of the course arrives it’s hard to say goodbye. But it’s not the end. We pledge to be on hand to cast an eye, or an ear, over what the course participants plan or present in the coming weeks or months. We love to see the impact it has, as explained by 2019 participant Ben Theaker in his regular column in Farmers Weekly.

Developing good communication skills starts with the desire to do better. It grows with the ability to observe and use what works well and drop what doesn’t. It continues to improve with practice. And we have already heard of plenty of chances the class of 2019 have to put their new skills into practice. 

There are ground-breaking (or more accurately ‘ground-improving’) techniques to share with other farmers, international presentation opportunities taking UK research to the Far East, getting the science of potato production into more fields, new career moves, using film to recruit new growers of niche crops and promote what they grow, and taking interaction with young consumers and shoppers to a new and more meaningful level. That is just a few on the list. And that’s blooming marvellous.

The next John Forrest Memorial Award course will be 7th-9th January 2020.

For details on how to apply see The Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF) Felix Thornley Cobbold Agricultural Trust (FTCAT)