Thursday, May 23, 2013

What to Say and How to Say it.

As I go through life I go through life, I try to view things at a 20,000 feet level. A level of perspective that allows me to see everything as it exists and not to dwell in the smallest of details. I believe this way of thinking has helped me remove a lot of stress from my life.

This week at the Pig Adventure, many of the Belstra Milling staff met with Andy Vance and Sarah Muirhead from Feedstuffs Publication to discuss the media, speaking to the non-farm public and how our words and body language affect the opinions and decisions of those who see us.

The meeting was built around the idea that we want to educate our guests without them having the feeling that they sat through a lecture. We want it to fun, educational, and beneficial to all who come. 

I have sat through many public speaking trainings and have a good amount of speaking to consumers about the pig industry, but I left that meeting with many notes that I never had thought of before. Many "hot words" or topics that we discuss may be to in depth for what people really want to know. 

As the tour guide and the expert pig farmer in the room, it is my job to interpret their question, answer it clearly, and not leave loose ends and open ended answers that invite more unneeded questions. 

We focused a lot on the fact that we (humans) tend to talk to much, answer questions with lengthy answers that tend to leave the precedent of the original question. We want to move away from this way of answering questions and focusing on what the key message in our answer is. Keeping it short and on topic, and most importantly not letting our answers invite other questions that we either don't want to answer or aren't equipped to answer. 

Andy made the point that when it comes to communicating our message, the most important part of our answer is the period. Leave your answer short, let them think about what you said, and move on to the next discussion. 

So I am now beginning to wonder, "what is it that the average person wants to know about livestock farming?" Do people honestly care that I don't use hot shots on my farm? Do they want to know the principles and guidelines to the WeCare program? Or do they just want to know that we are people too, and not a "factory" that doesn't care about the animals or the value of the animals life?

I have a feeling that the many people in the industry think they know the answer to that question. But if I were a betting man, I would bet that we will learn more about what consumers care about in our industry when we open the doors t our farm and our education facility than we have ever learned in a survey. 

The 20,000 feet level way of thinking really helps me understand better what people want, but until I hear the consumers story and questions, it is impossible to know where they are coming from. I think that my big picture mentality will come in handy in making sure my conversations have the right tone and will help me be the sincere and caring farmer who wants to help others understand.

What are your thoughts? What are your experiences? What is it that you don't understand or know about the industry? All of your concerns and questions are welcome.