5 Steps to Telling Powerful Farm Stories

Connecting with consumers about farming is important. These days people really care about where their food comes from and how it gets from your farm to their plate, so it’s essential that you learn how to provide them with that information. A great way to share how life really is on your farm and how you produce the food that you sell is to tell your story.

However, it’s not enough just to tell your story, you need to learn how to tell it. We all know what it’s like to listen to a good story teller and also what it’s like to listen to a bad story teller. The difference in technique can either create a real connection with listeners or conversely cause listeners to walk away completely unchanged.

In this article we show you can be the former story teller, and create stories that connect with your audience and leave the listeners excited about your topic.

Made to Stick” authors, Dan Heath and Chip Heath, state that there are five things you must do to ensure your story “sticks” with consumers:

  1. Simplicity;
  2. Unexpectedness;
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional

 

  1. Simplicity

The first step is to be simple. Though this sounds deceptively easy, when you have a vast amount of knowledge about a subject it can actually be quite hard to do. The idea is to strip down your subject to its most critical essence. You should not be dumbing down the subject but rather you should give the listener, “just enough information to be useful.” As the authors state in the book, “when you say three things you say nothing.” Therefore it’s important to just stick to one core idea and ensure you communicate it in the most concise way possible.

  1. Unexpectedness

The second step is to do something unexpected. People are wired to notice change and disregard regularity. So, when people are expecting a particular line of thinking or sequence of events they often tune out. This is why it’s crucial to create surprise in your story. To do this the authors suggest breaking down your audience’s guessing machine. One way to do this is to use the gap theory of curiosity (ie: triggering people’s curiosity by creating a gap between what they know and what they want to know) and then using your story as a means to tell them the answer. If you would like some inspiration on what this might look like, check out Derek Halpern’s article on the subject over at Social Triggers.


  1. Concrete

The third step is to communicate in concrete and relatable language. If you want people to understand what you’re talking about you should communicate in a way that they understand. and this means not defaulting to industry terminology. The authors suggest utilizing the “velcro theory of memory.” The idea is that similar to a piece of velcro, your brain has many different loops so the more “hooks” an idea has the better it will cling to your memory.

  1. Credible

The fourth step is credibility. This should be the easiest step for everyone, afterall YOU are the farmers, so you should be the authority on farming and food production. To help you along the way consider how you can boost your credibility with these tips:

  • give vivid details (studies have shown that people are more receptive to ideas if they are given some details to imagine)
  • if you use stats – ensure that they show a relationship. This is really important since people won’t remember a number but they will remember a relationship between numbers.
  • Analogies work. Draw on ideas that people are already familiar with to explain new things to them.
  1. Emotional

The final step is to tell your story with emotion. As the authors state, “when people are primed to feel as opposed to analyze they are more receptive towards your message.” So, how do we make people care about our story? The answer is to make the story about them and ensure that you create an association between the things that they care about and your message. People are people, and so you can never go wrong by making the story appeal to their identity. If you do this you will be better positioned to tap into their emotional side, rather than their analytical side.

So, those are the 5 steps you can take to telling a better farm story. Put them to use, and get out there are share your story. As I discussed above, people want to know more about where their food comes from and the farmers that feed them, so go create your story now and share it with the world. People are waiting to hear about it, and it will never get told unless you tell it.

Link photo courtesy of Jill Clardy

 

 

 

 

 

6 replies
  1. Whitney Nepinak
    Whitney Nepinak says:

    I think it is the farmer’s responsibility to tell the story. They are the ones who know the inside scoop on the story. The farmers decide what goes into their crops, so they are the ones with the most knowledge on where the food is really coming from and what is in it. If someone from the city, or someone who didn’t have an agricultural background were to try and tell the story, it would be stereotypical as to what people think about farmers, some good things, some bad things. The farmers would have the most honest and correct story of what goes into our food products.

    Reply
    • Kayden Shapka
      Kayden Shapka says:

      I 100% agree with Whitney’s comment. Farmers should be the ones telling the story. They know off hand on what is happening on their operation and experience many things daily that people that don’t live on farms have no clue about. If you want the story to be accurate I believe that the farmers should be the ones telling the story.

      Reply
    • Megan Wonsik
      Megan Wonsik says:

      I agree with Whitney, a farmer has a much better look on the whole aspect of his operation and how things work in the agricultural world. If someone from the city were to come out, who has never been on a farm before, he/she may be completely biased on the whole agricultural operation. Every farmer is different and handles situations differently, runs his farm differently, etc.. We as the listeners want to know the truth behind it all.

      Reply
  2. Megan Wonsik
    Megan Wonsik says:

    I think that it is important to tell the story of agriculture to pass it down to generations and to keep the traditions and love for the farm going. It is always a great thing to pass down knowledge and give people a reason to listen. In my opinion people are telling there stories everyday, when a father/husband comes home from the field and tells his children or wife about his day, he is telling his story. If the kids go to school and tell their friends about simple things of helping mom or dad on the farm with chores or even riding in the tractor they are telling their own story of agriculture. Agriculture should be a story about passion but also learning about the farm and how it works. It should also tell a joyous side of farming but also the realistic hardships that come with it. I believe its the ones who grew up on the farm, that have experienced the hardships and the proud moments who should tell the story. The men and women who have both worked day and night to get heir hands dirty and put supper on the table for their children should tell there story, but I also believe that the story which is told should also be shared by the listeners.

    Reply
    • Sydney Poliakiwski
      Sydney Poliakiwski says:

      I agree that it is important to share your personal agriculture stories with your children and your grandchildren. I enjoyed hearing how different technology and farming were back when my grandparents were young children. Agriculture does have its hardships but these hardships help to keep us humble and teach us a strong work ethic that we can apply to everything for the rest of our lives.

      Reply
  3. Kayden Shapka
    Kayden Shapka says:

    People that have experience with these different situations and have hands on experience should be the ones telling the story. In my opinion, it’s hard to talk about something if you have never done it before or had a chance to be faced with. A good storyteller is someone that knows what they are talking about and can relate their encounters in the story being told. I believe that someone with farming as an occupation or someone that has agricultural knowledge should be sharing farm stories.

    Reply

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