“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

These words by internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker and author John Maxwell deliver a powerful message and they serve as the foundation for "Visible Voice," a new leadership development through effective communications program launched by Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

“We in American agriculture have stood quietly in the background for far too long and have not shared the positive messages associated with food production with those outside of agriculture,” says Shelly Mayer, executive director with PDPW and dairy producer from Slinger, Wis. “This leadership development program will give us the knowledge, tools and self confidence to step out so American agriculture has a voice and our messages are crafted with an ear-friendly blend of fact and emotion, delivered effectively.

“This is an exciting, dynamic communications training program that is extremely producer friendly and totally focused on empowering individuals within American agriculture,” she adds. The information learned can be used on a daily basis to enhance relationships with friends, family, elected officials and agricultural communities as well as those outside of agriculture.

Developed by communications experts in tandem with agricultural producers, “Visible Voice” consists of a series of active participation modules that are short on lectures and long on hands-on learning. The five modules of the program are:

  • Leadership through active listening.
  • Sharing your message with the media.
  • Social media basics.
  • Building a proactive communications plan for your farm.
  • Preparing for a crisis before it happens.

“The ‘Leadership through Active Listening’ session is an area that most communications workshops fail to address, and I’m glad it’s one module of Visible Voice,” Mayer notes. “Think about it. How can we effectively communicate if we don’t first listen to what someone is saying to us?

“Active listening is a foundational skill for all forms of communications,” Mayer says. “Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is so right. We spend years learning how to read and write and speak, yet most of us never have any training in listening. As a result, we listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.”

More information.