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8/31/15 5:09 AM Stephanie Hunter

effective communication strategiesTo structure and maintain effective communication strategies, we need to adopt similar thinking to the farm-to-table movement, get as close to the source as possible.

Almost every town and city across the country boasts its farm-to-table establishments. Its presence has been a powerful sweeping movement concerned with producing food locally and delivering that food to local customers; minimizing the time between harvest and fork — maximizing the quality and nutritional value.

What is so compelling is thateffective communication strategiesmay be viewed exactly the same. The closer the message is to an/event or audience, the more compelling it is.

History of Farm-to-Table

To dissect the comparison, let’s first trace the history behind the farm-to-table movement. We won’t start back with the Pliocene period, but suffice it to say that everything was pretty much local: animals, fish, fowl, fruits, and vegetables were either hunted, fished or gathered and eaten immediately.

With the growth of civilization came the cultivation produce and livestock and produce for consumption. The continued expansion in the food chain was most dramatic with industrialization: mechanization of processes and the ability to transport mass quantities of food from place to place; this offered growing populations stability. Efficiency and mass production galvanized a different way of food supply and distribution.

The core of simple food was lost to a changing lifestyle. The workforce shifted from farming to manufacturing and a completely different balance of labor market.

The History of Communication Technology is Similar

Prior to the 20th Century (starting in 3500 BC,) we know that paintings were prevalent from indigenous tribes. The creation and introduction of hieroglyphics, paper, and then Gutenberg's printing press in the year 1450 coupled with three key developments: telegraph, telephone, and phonograph. All of the communication advancements focused on relaying information about the history or creating connections in real time.

The 20th century propelled us further beyond printed or the spoken word with the inventions of the transistor radio, television, the internet, email, floppy disks, and file sharing. The 21st century has taken us even further: text messaging, followed quickly by annual advances: first digital cinema, camera phones, SKYPE, iTunes, social media sites, Google, YouTube, direcTV, iPhones — there are literally milestone advances every six to twelve months.

Analogous to the food supply chain, advances in communication arose from a need to address the speed, quality accessibility, and quality of connections.

What Can we Glean From the Farm-to-Table Movement?

Farm-to-table takes us back in time, it reminds us that going local without abandoning the positives from the advance of food production. We use better techniques of cleaning and storing food. Food preparation takes advantage of new technology and information from food science research.

The best food supply chain is highlighted by:

  • Food security: individual/household and community needs
  • Proximity: closest distance from producer to consumer-integrating stakeholders in the process
  • Self-reliance: increasing the need for which a community relies on its own to address food needs
  • Sustainability: interest in not compromising future generations’ food needs

Likewise, with effective communication strategies, we want to marry the advances without going so far from the information and the recipient. It is possible to cherry pick from the high tech without losing site of the key aspect of communication--human interaction and engagement.

Common themes of all technology communication advances are the addressing of real information being translated over different medium with increasing effectiveness and speed.

Four elements that distinguish well implemented effective communication strategies

  • Clarity: ability to get your points across with as little deviation from reality as possible. Face to face contact typically provides the strongest clarity
  • Simple: written words provide the simplest means of relaying information, where points may be concise and re-read, everyday words and may be modified depending on the targeted audience
  • Considers Alternatives: “there is always a better way of doing things”
  • Immediate course corrections: setting standards, observing and checking back

As you craft, refine and revisit your effective communication strategies, take a moment to reflect on what will make yours the most successful. Blend what technology has to offer you today, but get your information across with clarity, simplicity, working with options and remember to listen and use feedback. These may take the format of face to face or video/audio communications, paired with text/PDF documents and inclusion of follow-up surveys or questionnaires. What’s the wave back to the future in your communications? Ving.

Make your choices count both in what and how you eat and what and how you communicate.

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