Communicating in the real world
Our vision at Incredible Edible is to create kinder, more confident, more connected communities through the power of food. We can’t do that if we don’t talk to each other!
People are as important to us as plants and our movement has grown through small actions and whispered stories.
People see what we are doing and want us to come and tell them the story. We can all tell our own story. We don’t need to be able to give the world’s best Ted talk or speak to a football stadium full of people.
People want to know about you, why you did what you did and what happened next. If we are going to start a movement we all need to be able to tell a little bit of a story. The great thing is that Incredible Edible is about people so your story is as important as anyone else’s.
This section helps you get to grips with the basics of giving a great talk in public and how to engage and inspire the people listening, as well as advertising your talk and your group’s activities. Using our PowerPoint template or our poster template in Word or PowerPoint are great ways to get started and the brand guidelines will be useful if you want to design new resources.
It is not about a performance but about giving you the tips and the confidence to be able to be the ‘best you’ when you stand in front of others and open your heart and your mouth about what Incredible Edible means to you.
Giving talks—the basics
It’s always a bit overwhelming when you are asked to speak in public, but there are some really basic things to support you to get through it and want to do it again!
Getting the Incredible Edible message out there is important to inspire people to believe in the power of small actions and how they can make a change to the world, perhaps by starting to volunteer for your group or just by choosing to buy a loaf of bread from the local baker on the way home. If you’ve got an audience of 20 people, just think about how many small actions your talk could generate!
But who will want you to talk? It’s a question often asked and local horticultural groups, Royal Horticultural Society In Bloom groups, schools, colleges, local food and growing initiatives and others interested in Incredible Edible and change may be in touch to find out more about what you are doing in your community. There’s more information about seeking out opportunities to give talks in the Going deeper section.
The first thing to do is to make sure, as a group, you know who is and who is not prepared to get up and give a talk when asked. Whilst some of you will be happy talking in a meeting, for some the thought of standing in front of a room of people to talk is just too much, so have your designated speakers and allow them to practice on the rest of your group. See our Top tips for giving talks for some tried and tested advice.
The next thing to do is decide what you want to tell people and to prioritise this so that no matter how long you have to speak, top priorities and most asked questions are answered in the first few minutes of your talk. Most audiences will be keen to understand what the difference is between an Incredible Edible group and a community garden for example, so a potted history of the movement and spinning the three plates of community, business and learning, is important. You can download a PowerPoint presentation template with all this information here.
It’s then important to make sure you explain how your group is addressing all those things within your community. Make sure you give yourself space to let people know how they can get involved and be incredible too and where they can find out more information.
And finally enjoy your talk! Remember you have been asked to talk to this group because they are interested in what you and your group are doing, and will be excited to hear your story. If you want to be inspired about what giving a talk can lead to, then read this story from Incredible Edible Dunstable.
Top tips on giving your talk
There is nothing worse than listening to a speaker who is head down, reading from notes, and not looking up and engaging with the audience, but equally whilst you get used to your speaking role it can be difficult.
So here are our top tips for not being that person…
- Have a crib sheet with titles as prompts.
- Have a sheet of pictures in front of you that the audience can’t see, in the order of your talk, to use as prompts.
- Decide to talk with other members of the group and each stick to a short part of what you want to say. This works fine with up to 3 people, but after that can be a bit unorganised so do this with caution—but it can work!
- Use your slideshow as prompts where appropriate—but try to avoid reading out word for word what’s on the slide.
- Practice! Ask other group members or volunteers to be your guinea pig audience and ask them to be really honest with you about what you are saying and how you are presenting it. And remind them to be kind…
Using PowerPoint slides
Not everyone likes slides, however we’ve provided you with a PowerPoint template which is a great start—you just need to add in some words and photos from your group.
Although obviously in some places it won’t be possible to have a projector etc., slides are a great way of making sure you keep on track with your talk as they can act as a visual aid, so that you can avoid reading from notes.
It’s good to set your talk into a structure which has a start, a middle and an end; whether it’s 5 minutes or an hour, just so you know you have said everything you need to say to your audience. Here’s an example:
History of Incredible Edible and how your group started (we’ve provided you with slides to help with this)
- Your group’s stories and what you are doing Photos—before and after People—action shots and having fun
- How you are a part of the Incredible Edible network
- Future plans Next week, next month or even next year!
Round up and end
How people can get involved… What Where When
Make sure to leave time to answer questions.
A selection of slides that support your explanations of the work you are doing is also a great way to keep your audience interested and stop their minds wandering, which is inevitable and not something to be offended by!
Getting inspiration for your talk
There’s a Ted Talk for everyone and what is fabulous is that they are all inspiring in the way they are given.
Take a look through and find some that work for you, see how they are broken down and what inspiration you can find to make your talks as inspiring as any Ted!
Or, watch Incredible Edible co-founder, Pam Warhurst, give her talk which has inspired Incredible Edible groups down the road from you as well as around the world:
Hopefully now you are set up to give a great talk to a local group about the whys and wherefores of your group. Don’t forget to take flyers and information on where people can find you—talks are a great place to hand these out—and most of all enjoy it. Remember your audience is there because they are interested in you and your group!
Oh, and don’t forget to smile!!
Using flyers and posters
Often we think flyers and posters have been relegated to the past but they still have their uses.
Not everyone has access to the internet and popping flyers through doors is the best way to ensure everyone hears about your work.
If you are going to have a stand or a stall at an event, sending people away with a flyer to remind them of their conversation with you is important, particularly if they may have spoken to lots of people. You want to stand out!
So with those thoughts in mind, what should your flyer look like?
We’ve produced a series of templates for posters and flyers which you can edit to fit your needs. There are posters templates which could be used to promote activities or meetings, to advertise your seed swap or to tell people about the crops in harvest. If you haven’t got much text an A5 flyer might be big enough, however don’t make the font size too small—you want everyone to be able to read it.
It’s always a good idea to ensure you include the basics, like your group name and as many ways for people to contact you as possible. So include your social media links, an email address that is affiliated with the group (e.g. a gmail address that you can all access), and some information about how people can get involved—your call to action! And some pictures of your site(s) and activities can help inspire people to get in touch. For more information about using social media, see the Online communications section.
If you think you may have places where posters could be used, add a white box to the bottom of your flyer and get it made in A2, and you can write any extra info into the box, depending on what you want it to highlight. That way you don’t constantly need to be designing new flyers and leaflets.
The strategically placed poster is still a wonderful marketing tool for putting across vital information about your event or meeting. Where would you put them? Think again about your target group and places of high footfall e.g. supermarkets and local shops, churches and schools, also dentists and doctors’ surgeries.
Remember the five W’s—answer the questions WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN & WHERE to make sure all the vital information is present on the poster.
And when looking at who might design your flyer or poster, remember the motto, “if you eat you’re in”. It might be that you know someone who would revel in this kind of design, but who might not feel that confident out in the garden. A great way to get the whole community involved!
You might have access to a printer so you can print off a few, but if you need a larger print run you might need to go to your local printer. We’ve provided full colour or black and white options, depending on your printing facilities and budget. Using a local business might give you the opportunity to negotiate a discount if the owners hear about your Incredible activities. Consider your print run when you do the design—how long can you use it for before it goes out of date? You don’t want to have put a lot in the bin in 6 months’ time. And speak to your local printer to see if they can do you a deal—prices vary, but Incredible Edible Bristol recently got 100 A4 single sided, full colour posters printed for £17. Ask your printer about more sustainable print options, for example using recycled paper and eco-friendly inks.
What makes a good sign?
When you actually begin to sit and contemplate what makes an Incredible sign, more and more things spring to mind.
In your own garden plot, a straightforward label identifying what you have grown where is often enough.
But an Incredible Edible Plot is more than that. As co-founder Pam Warhurst likes to point out these are propaganda gardens. Not in the sense that we are seeking to indoctrinate people, rather to illustrate what can be achieved in such a small area.
What’s in the plot?
Firstly of course, you do want to demonstrate what can be grown. Many people may not have a clue what is in the patch even when it is fully grown so, as with at home, plant identification is vital. However, we need to illustrate more. So it’s worth adding more information such as when can this plant be picked? Make a traffic signal from piece of wood; red, amber and green horizontal stripes, covering up the ones that don’t apply. How can you cook it? If unusual what does it taste like? Do you have any good recipes for it? Bring this plant to life; highlight the plant’s potentials as a food staple. Look how Kale crisps have resurrected this plant’s popularity.
Signage for the winter
Make it clear the site is still active, even though it doesn’t look like much. Otherwise the bare looking soil in your planter might become a site for rubbish and even considered an eye sore. So a sign saying ‘This planter is hibernating for the winter, inside are some great plants which will be back in Spring’ might help deter the litter louts.
You can also use your signage to spread the word about what the Incredible Edible movement is about. Your veggie plot is your group’s shop window. It is the perfect place to shout about what you are doing and who you are. Naturally, flag up your growing work but also anything else you have going on such as fundraisers. When you have a particular campaign, such as Dig for Victory or a recruitment drive make sure your plot signage reflects this.
As importantly, it’s the perfect pin up to let folks know how they can join in. So make sure, where there is room, you include contact details or event info.
Your plot can also be a great place to recognise people’s efforts or donations. Not everyone is a grower but lots of non-green fingered folk may have helped get this plot going.
So if the Brownies look after it occasionally or the local garden centre donated a water pump, a public Thank You goes a long way. Of course, acknowledgement of those who have toiled to get the plot to its growing glory is also a winner and lets volunteers know they are valued.
Good signs feature:
- Plant identification
- Plant use
- Group info
- Thank yous
Of course they can also simply be beautiful to look at. Use our brand guidelines to make sure your sign looks Incredible! And get inspiration from signs from some of our Incredible Edible groups here.
Tools for promoting your group
We’ve created the following templates:
Tea bag packet—to put a single tea bag in
Tea bag tags—to attach to a tea bag with string
Seed Packet—to fill with seeds at your next seed swap
Seed bomb carrot—to fill with a couple of seed bombs
The key with these is that they’re all made to share… The tea bag and seed packets both have the URL for our find a group page, so if you hand these out at events then people can search and connect with your group.
Bringing people to do things together helps build kind, confident and connected communities. Growing in your patch does this, but some people don’t like getting stuck in down on the plot—or it might be chucking it down out there! Bringing people together to share a cuppa and get stuck in cutting out the templates and sticking them together is a great activity for young and old. And at the end of your sessions together you’ll have a stock of promotional materials to hand out at your next talk or community event.
Find someone with access to a printer, or have a chat with a local business who might print a few off for you, and to print out the templates. Each template has instructions. The seed bomb carrot is particularly fun for kids of all ages because it involves some colouring in—remember to always supervise kids when there are scissors around.
An Incredible Cup of Tea
How to make an “Incredible” brew using freshly pick herbs in 4 easy steps. All you need are some empty drawstring tea-bags
(available online), fresh herbs and your choice of incredible tea tags.
- Pick & wash some fresh herbs from the garden. Mint is good, as it adds a fresh taste and lemon balm for its calming and relaxing properties.
- Take an empty tea bag or 2 and stuff them full of your chosen herbs, you can chop them with clean scissors to get more in.
- Add your Incredible tea tags! If you used glue to stick then together let your tags dry before using.
- Place it in a cup, add boiling water and enjoy!
Why don’t you make a few and share with the public, as a fabulous talking point when you are out gardening. Maybe you could give them out at your next event or even have a “make your own tea-bag” activity—use the Incredible tea bag packets to keep your tea bags clean and safe.
And don’t forget to take photos of your Incredible tea bag activities and share on social media using #IECommunitea—we’d love to see what you’ve been up to!
Getting paid for your talk
Finding sustainable funding streams is always a hard thing to do for groups, and talks can be a great way to support yourselves to create more growing in your village, town or city.
But how to go about this? Money is something we often don’t feel comfortable talking about, so here are some suggestions:
- If you are talking to an organisation which has a subscription attached for its members, they will expect to pay whoever they have asked to speak. When the request comes in, find out a bit about the group and ask them what they would like their contribution to be. Whilst it might feel awkward on the first few occasions, they will be pleased to hear that they are supporting your work, and if you can, mention in your talks where that cash will go.
- If you are asked to talk to a business suggest that they give an appropriate donation for your time. If they are serious about hearing your story, and hopefully wanting to engage with you in some way, they will be pleased to do so.
- If you’ve been asked to talk at a community event it’s very difficult to ask for a payment, and often not appropriate, but you can ask for donations on the door from the audience, who will probably be more than happy to give a couple of pounds. After all they have chosen to come and hear your story.
As with any funds that come into your group, it’s important to be transparent about where and what they are spent on, but good use of social media is a great way of saying thank you, and staying in touch with the groups you have spoken to whilst showing them what their donations have been spent on! Have a look at our Online communications section for hints and tips on using Twitter and Facebook.
Seeking out opportunities for giving talks
When an Incredible Edible group begins its journey it is important to get your message out there and the beginning of your story told so you can link up with and get support from new people and organisations.
Often in the first weeks and months people in your local community will ask your group to tell your story at events and group meetings. Once that initial buzz has died down how do you, as a group, engage with a wider reaching audience whilst keeping those important first supporters up to date, and spread your message whether it’s in your village, a town or a city?
It’s worth taking some time as a group to look at who you want to tell your story to. Initially you may find that you aim yourselves towards local gardening groups, allotment societies and third sector environmental groups, but it’s important to step outside your comfort zone too. Whilst it’s amazing to tell the tales to people who are natural supporters, it’s also important to inspire others who might not even have heard of Incredible Edible or it’s aims. How do you decide who you’d like to engage with as a group and what then?
Writing a list of groups or sectors is a good start, based on the interests of those in your group. If you have a particular interest in health for example, who do you want to speak to? On a local level your GP surgery is a great start and on a citywide level it might be that you engage with the local NHS. In England, NHS Trusts have a Sustainability Team who often are looking for people to set up lunchtime talks at larger hospitals, for example to encourage staff to get involved in volunteering activities.
Schools are always a good choice as they are often looking for people to speak in assemblies. It’s worth calling rather than emailing, as schools receive so many emails each day you are likely to get lost in the inbox, particularly if you send it to an "info @" email address. A call to the head and a conversation about the Incredible Edible Learning Plate is always worth some time and could lead to an assembly where you inspire the children to get their parents out to volunteer with you.
Local campaigning groups often hold open meetings where you can go along and talk, fairly informally usually, about what you are working on with your group and how people can get involved. Whilst often these groups are a part of the movement for change that we are a part of, it’s also the case that often they might not be clear what the difference between an Incredible Edible group and a community growing group is, so it’s definitely worth engaging.
There are places where you can add yourself to a list as a potential speaker. Some of these charge to be added to the list, however this might give you opportunities to talk at events where you can charge, so it might be worth the investment. Others, such as the Women’s Institute, ask you to an event where you do a demo talk and they then add you to their list if they feel it’s appropriate.
The best way to generate invitations is by word of mouth. If you inspire people in your talks to get involved or to learn more, they inevitably will tell friends and colleagues in other circles of society. So it’s really important that when you do speak, people have the opportunity to get all of your details so they can contact you for further talks. Take cards, flyers and anything else you might think will help with spreading your contact details and get you more invites to spread the Incredible Edible story.
Finally it is always worth creating your own opportunities by holding talk events yourselves. It could be with a film showing, with another speaker that you invite along, or as a part of another event going on locally that you are asked to be a part of.