Aug 09, 2011  |  Today's News

Last week, Illinois corn farmers from all across the state had an opportunity to better their presentation skills and learn a little more about how to relate to the non-farm public.

During a two day training, past and present leaders from the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board worked on eye contact, vocal inflection, body language and making a true connection with their audience.  They also learned that a majority of the terms and procedures we skim over as second nature are very interesting and a learning opportunity for most urban audiences.

Would you like some pointers to better your public speaking skills?  Consider:

  • Most audiences are kinesthetic learners – they learn by doing.  A speaker that provides opportunities for the audience to move, touch an object, or practice a skill will be more affective in conveying his message.
  • When speaking with a powerpoint presentation or other visual aid, remember that YOU are the presentation, not the slides.  Face and speak to the audience, not the screen or visual aid.
  • Audiences need a second to understand what is on your slide before you deliver the message or the point of the slide.  Take a second to describe what is in the photos, what exactly the graph is showing, what the key words on the slide are before continuing with your message.
  • As farmers, we understand what no-till means, what a combine looks like, and how big an acre is, but most people don’t.  Thoughtfully consider the words you use and be sure to explain or use different words that are understandable and less threatening.
  • When describing what you do, relate it to an activity that your audience does too so that they can understand and relate to you.  Most parents understand immunizing children, so talk about livestock health as a parallel.  Many American’s understand taking care of lawns or gardens so discuss taking care of your crops in the same manner.
  • Your passion for your topic will shine through.  Speak with confidence and energy about your farm, your values, your industry and any audience will understand that you love your lifestyle.