Communication is hard, right? We’ve heard time and again over the past decade the need to “share your story” as it relates to advocacy and reaching consumers to answer questions about where our food comes from and how our food is grown. We try to make communication and advocacy complicated, but it can be broken into a few simple steps.
But how do farmers and ranchers become better at advocacy? Communication is a soft skill that isn’t always the strongest in agriculture, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to help others with their advocacy efforts every day through my role with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
I was recently invited to share this information with beef and dairy cattle farmers and ranchers at the Cooperative Resources International (CRI) annual meeting in Minneapolis. The cooperatives provide genetics services to beef and dairy farmers and ranchers to help them continually improve their cattle herds and to do their jobs better.
3 keys to stronger advocacy
Want to be a stronger advocate and communicator? Here are three keys to help you improve and have better discussions with your audiences.
This first step is pretty tough, but key in connecting with your audience. Instead of leading with the facts and information you want your audience to know, take time to listen. When someone disagrees with you, attack the idea, not the person. Don’t be that asshole on Twitter. When someone shares a concern with you, ask questions and be an active listener before you share your facts.
In a discussion with someone you disagree with, instead of thinking about what you’ll come back with next when the other person is talking, listen with the intent to understand. Ask questions to clarify their concerns and gain context for where they found the information and discover the root of what they’re asking. Then, let them know you hear them.
Share your experience
Oftentimes we overlook some of the easiest opportunities to answer the questions of others. When it comes to food and agriculture, most of our audiences have simple questions. What do cattle eat? Why castrate cattle? Why do farmers brand cattle? What is a feedlot? Does feeding corn harm cattle? Why do farmers leave dying corn in fields? The questions aren’t always complicated. Much of the time, people just want a chance to Ask a Farmer.
People trust other people and connect when you share your personal experiences. These can include everyday occurrences and roles in your job. Use those experiences to illustrate larger points. A patchwork of photos from your daily life on an Instagram profile can be stitched together to tell a larger story over time.
Communicate your passion
Passion and enthusiasm resonate with others and can help us to connect with other people as people. Take advantage of and share your passion. Don’t be afraid to let that enthusiasm shine through when discussing something you love.
I’m willing to bet most of us working in agriculture are passionate about what we do. We’re certainly not farming or ranching to get rich. Let others know how passionate you are in order to be more authentic and genuine in your communication. Leaders who understand and embrace passion have tremendous opportunities for empowering and engaging others.
TLDR: Genex asked me to share this insight via Facebook Live with their audiences. So if you didn’t want to read all that, I’ve summed up these three tips on advocacy in a short video you can share on Facebook. Or click here to share on Twitter.
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