Celebrating clear communications

When was the last time you were on the receiving end of a dull presentation or boring talk? Too many of us will have a recent event in mind. That’s why it was great to be in a room full of people who have had communication skills training. These are professionals who know how to be clever, colourful and creative in getting their messages across.

Marking a man’s life with a meaningful legacy

communications skills course reunion
Catching up with communication challenges enjoyed.

For the last ten years, in memory of an outward-thinking Suffolk farmer John Forrest, a training course to sharpen the communication skills of East Anglian agri-professionals has been held for three days each January. The John Forrest Award, financed by the Felix Cobbold Trust and The Morley Agricultural Foundation, selects the successful applicants to invest in each year. Green Shoots, and our suite of invited tutors, inject the training and encouragement. The eight participants bring their farming or research expertise and communications ambitions. The combined result is the creation of professionals who go forth into their working lives prepared and inspired to give fantastic radio and TV interviews, deliver engaging presentations and talks.

Count the impact of communications training

Ten years of communication skills training sounds a terrific thing. But what have those 79 agri-professionals who have received it over the last decade done with it? The answer to that is terrific too. On the night of the dinner celebrating the John Forrest Award the totals from those present (and some of those who weren’t) were all totted up. The delivered communications results are, so far (but still coming in!) :

Eastern Daily Press agricultural correspondent Chris Hill
Eastern Daily Press agricultural correspondent Chris Hill gave insights into the challenges of reporting farming news.
  • 2832 presentations
  • 284 films
  • 172 radio or TV interviews
  • 912 interviews and other opportunities

It’s an impressive batch of results.

Could do better still?

However, there’s no room for complacency. The means to connect, the audiences to reach and the urgency to do so – with clear and useful messages – are all increasing. The JFA Award dinner also delivered some information and inspiration of how to do all that even better.

Eastern Daily Press agricultural correspondent Chris Hill gave a fascinating insight into how farming stories need to be reported to attract the widest readership. He described the desk-side visual monitoring of how his output – through the news platforms – is performing against the reports by his colleagues on other stories and issues. It illustrated the high-pressure performance required by print media and digital reporters. He also showed how farming stories need to be headlined and presented to attract the widest possible attention.

Howard Petch presents to those who've completed Green Shoots communications skills course
Howard Petch with his brilliantly direct, humorous and inspiring presentation.

Top class speaker Howard Petch had the audience hanging on his every word. With humour, great story-telling, sharp wit and incisive observation he showed how good communication, and leading others to be good too, helps business and life itself go much, much better.

John Forrest Award 2020

The 2020 John Forrest Award is open for applications. Application is either through TMAF or  the Felix Cobbold Trust. Successful candidates will be notified toward the end of 2019. Another batch of farmers and researchers will have three inspiring and informative days to build their communication skills. 

Above all, it’s one very important way to make make dull presentations, mediocre talks and hard-to-understand conversations on radio and TV much, much less likely.