The following tips cover key areas of planning. See the suggested timeline for how they fit together in a typical situation. Scroll through this page or jump directly to a section of interest:
- Determine what the most important information to share is. What are the one or two main points to communicate? The clearer the message, the more likely it is to be remembered.
- How long will the event need to be to cover the information? Half a day? A full day?
- Identify the audience—who needs this information?
- Decide what size audience the field day can accommodate. Make sure it is small enough that all will feel engaged and can see and hear.
- Choose an inspiring title for the event.
- Create an interesting program that meets the audience’s needs. This would include short presentations, hands-on activities, demonstrations and, if possible, a walk through the fields.
- Choose knowledgeable and effective speakers. This could include partners in the research project, farm or ranch employees, or local Extension personnel. Any speaker should know the material well but also be comfortable speaking to a crowd. Ask if he or she has public speaking experience.
- Provide handouts as participants arrive.
- Use an audio system, such as a microphone, portable speakers or bullhorn, and speak loudly.
- If partnering with Extension and it will help your audience, see about providing a translator and translation equipment.
- If partnering with Extension, look into the program meeting criteria to give Continuing Education Credit to ag professionals.
- Schedule time at the end for questions and evaluations.
- Promote the event early, regularly and broadly. Think about the best ways to reach the audiences you have identified. Use social media, press releases, public service announcements (PSAs) and personal contact to target the media; farmers' associations and groups; the local offices of the Extension service, Farm Bureau, Farm Service Agency and Soil and Water Conservation District; and any other agricultural groups that are active in your area.
- See the section Downloadable Tools and Templates for a sample press release and PSA, and a flyer template.
- Contact SARE Outreach and your region’s Communications Specialist for assistance promoting on their event calendar, social media, newsletter and blogs. They may also be able to assist with media outreach and press lists.
- Order SARE materials to distribute. Visit the SARE WebStore for information on how to order books, bulletins and much more. Check out the Learning Center to see what is available.
- Plan early to determine registration methods, fees, where to locate parking and restrooms, and where to purchase food and beverages.
- For registration, be sure to capture emails or addresses in order to send detailed maps and information prior to the field day.
- Keep a close eye on the number of people registered and pull back on promotion if you are coming close to capacity. Consider a wait list if the registered number of participants hits capacity. Let people who register know how to cancel so those on the wait list can attend.
- Decide how people will register. Options can include registering by email, mailing in a form, or finding an on-line system (which may charge a fee).
- Consider a small fee ($5 to $25) to cover costs, and to ensure a better head count. Or, consider getting a sponsor.
- Make effective use of signs to parking, restrooms and the gathering area. See the section Downloadable Tools and Templates.
- Think safety. Be sure machinery, chemicals and even farm dogs are out of the way of participants. Check into existing liability insurance. Does the insurance allow for events on the property? Rides in trucks or tractors? Participants going into buildings and working with equipment?
- Provide plastic shoe covers if there is a possibility of bringing back a disease to another farm.
- If serving food, check local food safety regulations.
- If the field day is held during hot weather, plan for shade and water.
- Plan an indoor option in case of rain or cold.
- Use nametags.
- Prepare the handouts well in advance; draft then one month prior to the event. One handout could be enough.
- Do not try to get all the information into handouts. Pick key points and focus on those.
- Be sure the handouts reflect what is presented during the field day.
- Have plenty of visuals—photos, charts, infographics, quotes.
- Add contact information for future conversations and questions.
- Keep them readable: 11- or 12-point font, clear titles, sans serif font (e.g., Arial or Calibri, but not Times New Roman or Georgia) and lots of white space. Have them professionally printed or printed on a color laser printer.
- Leave blank space at the end for note-taking.
- Stick to the program and time allotments.
- Be prepared for questions.
- If time allows, let participants state what they want to learn or why they are attending when introducing themselves. This probably works best if the group is 20 or fewer.
- Be sure everyone can hear.
- Don’t rush and remember to breathe!
- Make eye contact with the audience.
- Tell stories—make the presentation personal. People want to hear about other people’s experiences at a personal level.
- Prepare points ahead of time but do not read from a script.
- Minimize the use of “um,” “you know,” “ah,” etc.
- Have visuals when not in the field, such as photos, posters or sample plants. See the section Downloadable Tools and Templates.
- Decide if questions will be taken throughout the presentation or at the end, and share this with the audience upfront. Encourage questions.
- Make the field day as active as possible—walk the fields, conduct a demonstration, show examples, create hands-on activities.