Speak of What You Love

Crabtree Gardens DaylilyWhat distinguishes the difference between a good garden speaker and a great garden speaker?  Is it the knowledge the speaker holds on the subject they speak of or in the way they present that knowledge. Public speaking is not something everyone can pull off no matter how knowledgeable they are.

As the owner of a display and educational garden business I ponder these questions often and I’m doing my best to learn what it takes to become a great speaker. Since opening my business, I have had several opportunities to speak about my favorite subject and have developed some workshops for gardeners.  It always was and still is a concern to me that what I presented would be well received by the attendees.  I’m sure this is something every public speaker hopes for.

Recently, I joined the Mountaintop Garden Club and attended their meeting at the Marian Sutherland Kirby Library with guest speaker Ron Berger. Ron is the host of WYLN TV The Garden Spot and co-owner of Geo. Burger and Sons, Inc., a local garden center.

I was told that Ron is a highly sought after speaker and I was really looking forward to hearing his presentation. His experience is vast, as he has been involved in the horticultural industry throughout his entire life.

The presentation began with Ron delivering a lively dynamic welcome to the packed room. He discussed his background qualifications and training, he spoke of his family and recent trips to warmer places, perfect for an evening in the single digits. He then proceeded to really warm up the room with some photos he had on slides, which got a chuckle from just about everyone.

He covered several different topics about landscaping in a residential environment and improving the value of your home through properly placed plants and trees. He gave ideas for creating interesting winter color in the garden and tips for other creative planting ideas throughout the seasons. He was a wealth of knowledge, and he was animated in his delivery. He had the complete undivided attention from every gardener there.

Ron is a nursery owner and to his credit, he marketed his business exceptionally well.  Selling horticultural products is a part of his livelihood. Ron truly cares about what he sells and the people who buy it from him and that seems to be what made the biggest impression on me.  As Jean-Paul Sartre said “We must act out passion before we can feel it”.
He showed concern for his clients and their choice of the proper landscaping materials. He was concerned when he drove past a home and saw plants sitting in a hot driveway weeks after their purchase, drooping from lack of water. He suggested that the attendees contact a professional for help designing a sensible landscape because he cared that they didn’t waste their money. He cared about directing his clients to choose the plants that they themselves could care for.  He cared enough to take the time to explain to his clients that the most important thing when planting anything is a hole that’s large enough. He believes in using and promoting organic fertilizers because he cares about our environment.  That fact in itself tells me Ron not only knows about gardening but that he has a true passion for it.

I could feel his passion as I sat there in that room, maybe because I am a horticultural professional or maybe just because he is so very good at what he does.  His passion for plants and flowers is actually contagious and I believe everyone in that room felt it.  When someone finds their passion and shares it with others it radiates from their entire sprit, just as it does from Ron.

His knowledge is truly commendable, his delivery was right on target and his compassion was paramount. So to answer my first question; “What distinguishes a good garden speaker from a great garden speaker?” The answer undoubtedly is passion.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of Ron and learning more about what I love from him.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think makes a garden speaker great?

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About crabtreegardens

I am a passionate decorator and the head gardener at Crabtree Gardens, LLC, which is a five acre naturalized garden located in Drums, PA. I advocate chemical-free, low maintenance gardening methods and working along with nature. I'm a freelance garden writer and member of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators.
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10 Responses to Speak of What You Love

  1. I agree, when you have a passion it shines through everything you do. And Sandi you sparkle!!!!!

  2. You are too kind Liz, thank you 🙂

  3. Chris Leskosky says:

    The Hazleton Area Garden Club had the pleasure of having Ron not only as a speaker, but he also featured our flower show on his TV program a few years ago. I agree, he is a great speaker because of his knowledge and passion.
    I can attest to it when you say it is easy when you “speak of what you love”. I would never in my wildest dreams think I would ever speak to a crowd. But when you have such a passion, and you have educated yourself on it, it comes very easy. It is truly amazing!

  4. Chris Leskosky says:

    And Sandi, your passion is very evident…and much appreciated!

  5. gardeningshoe says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about passion, but I think there is something more too. I have heard very gifted gardeners and designers speak – people who clearly have a passion for their subject and although I desperately want to know what they have to say, it is as if they don’t quite want to share it. So I think passion for gardening/plants/design etc and a desire to educate and to switch others on to the subject. It sounds as if Ron recognises that the needs of the listener are paramount and he is meeting those needs. I would love to hear him speak!

    • You are so right, I agree that the desire to switch others onto the subject is definitely paramount. Thank you for recognizing that. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. 🙂

  6. wanderoneday says:

    I think part of being a great garden speaker is being a great speaker in general. Plenty of people are knowledgable and passionate about their topics, but can’t communicate it clearly or effectively. One of the most helpful classes I took in college was an Engineering Communications course – we would all eventually become knowledgable about our chosen field of engineering, but communications is something that often gets the short end of the stick in such a technical field. In our class, we all had to give several presentations through the semester, which were recorded on video. Our classmates also wrote down constructive feedback during the presentation.

    Afterwards, we watched the video and read the feedback and tried to improve for the next presentation. It’s amazing how many unconscious tics presenters have – saying “um” or “ah”, fidgeting or rocking back and forth, waving the pointer around, stopping speaking as you transition to the next slide which creates an awkward pause, etc.

    Practicing getting rid of things like that can make a knowledgable, passionate speaker a more engaging speaker.

    • Interesting thoughts indeed! Thank you for sharing this experience- I know I tend to rock back and forth and then I catch myself! I guess the only way to exel is practice 🙂
      I do enjoy your blog and thanks for commenting.

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