Famous faces from the professional world have given some words of wisdom to a group of ambitious Year 9 students.
The Able and Ambitious English group took part in the “Persuasive Language in the Real World” workshop this week, listening to four top professionals address them about how they use persuasive language in their jobs and giving them advice on how they can argue and influence effectively.
First was Adam Wagner, human rights barrister and Covid law expert who spoke to students about keeping their language simple and relatable.
He was followed by Jessica Elgot, deputy political editor of The Guardian, who shared her experiences of analysing politicians’ use of persuasive speech. Students asked her a variety of probing question on different areas of her professional life; Milly Bryk, asked specifically her about her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
After the event, Ms Elgot commented the students “were amazing: what thoughtful and intelligent questions.” They really engaged with the issues incredibly thoughtfully and well beyond their years.”
Danny Stone MBE, director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, gave an entertaining and engaging presentation on his own journey with persuasive speech, from Campaigns Director of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) to his current role, educating and empowering parliamentarians and policy makers to address antisemitism. Dana Thomas said: “I liked how he interacted with the class and he gave some valuable advice.”
Lastly, the students heard from Alex Rodney, a New York lawyer who is currently suing former President Trump. He told students that persuasive speech is integral to his role and shared his advice on how best to capture an audience. Adam Hershkorn said he was “fascinating”.
The students then participated in a group task, where they were assigned jobs and persuaded the group of their importance and worth. Emily Bentwood, who convinced the class of her importance as a hairdresser and Adam Herkshorn, who persuaded his role as full time parent was vital, were voted the winners.
Lara Sitton said: “I couldn’t believe how a panel of experts, from such varied professions, all attributed the use of persuasive language as key to their success. I learned that the power of language is not about ‘fancy words’ and ‘sophisticated vocabulary,’ it’s more to do with how you capture your audience in a short space of time to draw them in quickly and convince them of your viewpoint.
“I didn’t realise quite how much research and preparation is needed to provide a strong case. Jessica Elgot explained that to ensure she writes quality stories, she researches the politician in detail and any relevant comments they may have made. This makes it easier to extract the information she needs during the interview and dig deeper into issues. “The guests were so friendly and relatable. I felt privileged to attend the workshop and I loved listening to everyone’s stories.”