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Influencing skills for 16 year olds - do they need them?

A few weeks ago someone who had attended one of our influencing programmes called us to see if we could help out.  She runs projects for The Groundwork Trust in North Wales and on one project, a group of 16 year olds are hoping to persuade their town council and a major private sector employer to make the town carbon neutral.  They’re doing various pieces of research and will then present their findings in September this year - quite a challenge.  As we’ve been Carbon Neutral for several years and as part of our own CSR approach we offered to do the work for expenses and the experience.

We’ve got 3 hours with them and have decided to use some of the basics from Myers Briggs to create a structure through which they can build their presentation.  Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth has provided lots of examples of different approaches to communication (data, big picture, logic, emotional charge etc) and of course is subject matter at the heart of their project.  As an aside, if you’ve not seen the film, it’s well worth watching, as a study in getting your message across.

I have to say that the idea of working with a group of 16 year olds rather than one of our regular, corporate groups is raising my anxiety levels a little.   I’m not sure what I’ve got to teach them, after all, if I look at my 15 year old daughter, she’s already one of the best influencers I know.  I’ll blog again after it’s all over.