Gateway to new growth
Having driven through the arched gateway and up the long sweeping driveway towards the elegant 16th century Madingley Hall, I knew this was going to be an interesting location to hone my communication skills.
We were welcomed in the Board Room by Susie Emmett of Green Shoots Productions who would challenge our existing communication skills with tasks to foster new growth over the next three days using her beaming personality. Susie drew our attention to a list of objectives and promised that no-one would leave on the final day until we had completed all objectives. At this point, we knew our comfort zones were going to be confronted.
Nervousness not an option
The course began with a quick introduction (or so we thought) to our fellow participants and our diverse job roles within agriculture. The way we introduced ourselves was being ridiculed from the very beginning. We were tasked with presenting one of our pre-course assignments to the rest of the group. A 4-minute-long presentation analysing the good and the bad of a communication opportunity. It was nerve-racking having to present and know we were going to directly challenged and receive feedback from the group and Susie. We were set two pieces of homework due the following day, one of which was a piece of creative writing. After a delicious three course meal together, it was off to our rooms for a spot of homework.
On day 2 we were joined by Susie’s business partner, Patrick Harvey. We were required to introduce ourselves to Patrick using some of the skills we had learned yesterday and then presented to the group our second pre-course assignment analysing two forms of communication and how each reached its target audience. Our next task really ensured we were outside of our comfort zones in the form of a TV interview on the challenges of farming today. Colin Smith from the Felix Cobbold Trust then joined us to mark our homework from the night before and choose the winners.
At dinner that evening we were joined by The John Forrest Award alumni, David Jones of The Morley Agricultural Foundation and two pre-recorded videos from past alumni highlighting how the course has enhanced their careers to date and enabled them to communicate effectively within the industry.
The art of effective discussions
On day 3 we focused on the art of chairing discussions, asking effective open-ended questions, and keeping to time constraints. We also built on our interview skills from the day before by being interviewed on the radio which I personally felt a lot more comfortable with, probably because there wasn’t a live camera in my face. Our final task was to use what we had learnt over the last three days to create a video showcasing our take-home messages from the course before heading back to the day job of agricultural consultant at Wilson Wraight.
An eye-opening experience
At the beginning of the three days, 8 agricultural professionals embarked on their journey to improve their communication skills as agricultural professionals, and I feel I can speak for everyone in saying that it was mission successful. A special thank you to The Felix Cobbold Trust, The Morley Agricultural Foundation, Green Shoots Productions and Wilson Wraight for allowing myself to participate in such an eye-opening and valuable course.
I would certainly recommend the course to anyone wanting to learn how to present themselves better and effectively communicate their ideas and thoughts with the industry.