The Agency: Africa updates

Assistant Facilitator Africa fills us in on what participants have been up to on the The Agency programme.

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We had reached the last session of learning The Agency methodology before participants would be moving on to researching their project, so today’s session would be all about making further developments on everyone’s ideas and working on pitching techniques.

We warmed up with a quick session of yoga before the tutor, Bobbi, got everyone to think about some of the key elements involved in how to pitch and present an idea, like persuasiveness, body language, posture and vocal tone. She then got the agents started on a debate game called Passion Pitch, splitting the group into partners A and B.  After being given a question or statement A had a minute to argue either for or against it; after their time was up, B then had a minute to present a counter argument.

With everyone locked in a heated discussion, Bobbi paused the debate and introduced some breathing and voice projection techniques the agents could use improve their presence. I added to this point by briefly going through a couple of vocal exercises singers use to warm their voices up; discussing how it helps preserve the voice and tackle nerves.

We then went through ‘Power Poses’, which is basically all about body language and how the way you stand can alter your demeanor and give you more confidence. We then continued with a few more rounds of Passion Pitching, with every agent having a new swag about their presence as they power posed their way through speeches.

With the breathing and posture techniques covered, it was time for our persuasive agents to prove themselves by setting up a stall in a “Market Place of Ideas”. They had to convince us of their ideas by using all 4 points of the compass (Desire, Form, Territory and Network) to create a hand drawn presentation and a two minute pitch.

With A3 paper, colouring pens, coloured cards, glue sticks and scissors at hand, the agents attacked this task full steam ahead and everyone seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of being able to work more on their ideas and share it with everyone else. The agents made the task their own, like Saffron who went bright and bold in colour to communicate her ideas about healthy living. Henrietta went all out with information cards about her theatre company for care leavers, which she attached together using a string and hung from the door to the wall, earning extra points in my book just for the innovative creation.

Once the preparations were done, it was time for the marketplace to commence. As I wandered from stall to stall, it had hit me how far the agents had already come. Everyone was able to flawlessly apply the methodology to their pieces and share their vision with the group and that alone was an early achievement and something to celebrate. So after a day of confidence building, arts and crafts and pitching, that’s exactly what we did! Knowing deep down the next few weeks is when the real fun begins as the dates for the panel pitches draw closer.

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