Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Constructive Conversations (AgriPOWER #2)

For our second session we spent three days in Wooster, OH which was absolutely beautiful. Amish country always is isn't it? The purpose of our second session was to learn how to build constructive conversations both in person, addressing the media and using social media. Our training was done by Matt Sutton-Vermuelen, from Unison Resource LLC
Matt talks to us about the importance of our conversations

First thing we needed to learn was how to build these constructive conversations and then how do we address them. Constructive conversations are times when you see a need to address someones concern, fear, doubt or general care. In agriculture these concerns come from some of the social issues we face such as; ethanol, food prices, humane care, environment, pollution, livestock smell, meat quality etc.

The most important thing I learned is that you can only speak on part of what you know. We spent time learning how our leadership styles will guide us to take a certain angle on our conversations. It is important that you be patient and let others address the concern before you try to correct it. We learned tactics that will help us control conversation by finding things to either keep, stop or stay on while talking. We learned how a trust model can help us identify why people might not feel comfortable with our answers or with our position on a certain subject.

We also learned the basic concepts of using social media (facebook, twitter, youtube, pinterest). These may not seem like a big deal, but it sure seems like everyone is online and if you want to be in the conversation you gotta get with the times. Twitter was a big hit for some of us that are already using social media such as myself, Anthony Stateler (@statelerffarms) and Callie Wells (@calliewells). Pinterest drew in a lot of excitement from the women in our group as we learned how to use an online pinboard to promote agriculture and begin our conversations through pictures.

The rest of our training was about talking with the media.This training was done by Anthony Huey, Reputation Management Associates. I have had a little experience in speaking to the media through my family's Our Ohio video we made, several special interest pieces I've done and a couple television interviews. I felt that for me this section of training was the most important one I have had yet.

 We learned basics such as timing your answer getting your point across in less than 10 seconds, controlling the perception (and the conversation), bridging questions and points, and how to move away from certain questions. the most important part of this training was learning it is crucial to have some talking points in the back of your mind so that when your thrown on the spot you have a well rehearsed, honest, thought out answer and you look professional answering. These 5 or 6 key points will help build the confidence in your audience that you actually know what your doing.

Our entertainment came from a 9 hole golf scramble. I really hope that being an ag leader works out for me because it's safe to say I'm not going to play in the masters...EVER. But it is also safe to say that if I stick to my pairing I may come out on top each time (Sorry Liz). We also wen ton several tours of local farms including orchards, produce warehouse, Quaser biodigester and the Secrest Arboretum at Ohio State ATI's OARDC.

I'm looking forward to my next session (#3), which will be focused around state government and how politics work in agriculture on a state level. Until then, start building your talking points and continue to promote agriculture.