Let’s do it again – communications skills training 2021

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. The legacy from two great East Anglian farmers, John Forrest and Felix Cobbold will again be inspiring and equipping this generation of agri-professionals to show and share their professional messages to good effect. The next course – January 2021 – is open for applicants.

Top team effort

Back in January 2020, the 11th group of eight agri-professionals to undergo three days of in-depth communication skills training gathered together at Madingley Hall, Cambridge.  It’s a testing time with sessions and tasks late into each evening, but never a dull moment. A carefully selected succession of tutors gives tips and insights as well as suggestions and useful techniques in communicating better.

Powerful group dynamics

Participant David Clarke at his day job using our 0-90cm soil corer testing soil mineral nitrogen in an oil seed rape companion cropping trial.
Participant David Clarke at his day job using a 0-90cm soil corer to test soil mineral nitrogen in an oil seed rape companion cropping trial.

One key ‘fuel’ for the course is the energy that comes from the personalities and ambitions of the participants. They don’t know each other before the course. For sure though, by the end of three days of working, discussing and learning together, they benefit from each other’s perspectives, styles and ambitions. This year we had a really strong mix: as well as farmers, we had research students, research managers and farm advisors. For the first time in eleven John Forrest Award courses, we had more women than men participants.

Multi-media skill-building

Communicating well has never been more important, nor more multi-media. Over the eleven years that Green Shoots has delivered the John Forrest Award course, the content has gradually expanded to include professional use of social media, how to take great photos and DIY filming.

However, the spoken word – whether face to face individually or to large groups – remains a top skill to master. With choice and use of words sorted, together with a sprinkling of great props and easy-to-visualise explanations, then we find that’s the large part of the communication job sorted.

Just the start

Jessica Hughes putting picture-taking tips into practice
Jessica Hughes putting picture-taking tips into practice

The training does not end with the last session of the course. We are on hand to cast an eye over a presentation or an ear over a talk or recorded interview and to continue to give support, advice and praise.

Investing in communications

So, what are the chances of another course? The trustees of the Felix Cobbold Trust and The Morley Agricultural Foundation that administer the John Forrest Award, met to review the Course of 2020 and what the participants felt they had gained from the experience and what they propose to do with their sharpened communication skills.

We are glad to report we have heard that they’ve decided to give the go-ahead for us to run another one – for another eight East Anglian agri-professionals – in January 2021.

Already, nominations for potential participants for the John Forrest Award Communication Skills training course have started to come in. The gift of communications skills training is going to be given again.

Get in touch if you or someone you know could be interested.

I have so many ideas from the course to use in my work

David Clarke

Making films is something I plan to do at work so the tips and practice from the course very useful

Sophie Clarke

Learning the new skills was a challenge but great fun!

Umaymah Ali
Umaymah Ali

I found the course so useful I always recommended others to apply

Dr Alistair Wright