Rohan Khanna and Raza Nazar – both undergraduates at King’s College London – were finalists at Policy Idol 2015 with their pitch titled “Unlocking Persia’s potential: towards a working relationship with Iran”. In this blog post, to coincide with the launch of Policy Idol 2016, Rohan and Raza tell us why they decided to enter the competition and what it was like to take part. You can read the details of Rohan and Raza’s pitch here or view the video at the end of their blog post.
Raza: As a law student I enjoy anything to do with critical thinking. So for me, Policy Idol was perfect as it made me do this at every stage of the competition. It was a contest that not only made us continuously ask ourselves if our pitch could be done differently but also required us to consider the full scope of the impact our idea could have.
Policy Idol really challenged us to think beyond our boundaries. After our three minute pitch, the judges asked us a series of questions of which we had no prior knowledge. We were forced to think on the spot and respond to the issues they raised, which was a very useful experience and a great way to test your resolve in a high pressure environment.
We wanted to take part in this competition because ‘hypothetical policy making’ is something of a hobby of ours – albeit on a dining table discussion level. Policy Idol gave us the chance to step up from the dining table and onto the stage, which was really exciting. The two of us potentially see ourselves involved in the policy making process in the future, hence it was ideal to have a bit of exposure and see what others thought of our ideas. Furthermore, the flexibility of the topic – “how can you change the world?” – was enthralling and thought provoking in itself.
Taking it to the stage for the final was very exciting. Having an audience to ourselves, even for three minutes, was definitely an experience to remember. Having our close friends and family supporting us made this even more special.
Rohan: Policy Idol gave us the opportunity to diversify and improve our public speaking skills. We had to consider things that don’t come into play when submitting written assignments, like delivery and engagement with the audience, both of which were equally important to covey the importance of our message and the weight of our arguments. I hadn’t had much prior experience with public speaking, but after taking part in the final of Policy idol, I feel more confident and able in my public speaking abilities, especially after the bespoke training in communication which we were given before the final.
Our own passionate interest in our topic was a real driving factor for signing up to Policy Idol. The topic was very hot at the time (only a few days before the final a provisional deal was struck between the P5+1 group of six world superpowers and Iran) and after we realised our own views were forming on the topic, we felt Policy Idol would be the perfect way to share those views to see if anyone else agreed with what we felt could help the UK towards a working relationship with Iran.
After the final our pitch was published in a publication by the Policy Institute called ‘Issues and ideas for an incoming government’. It was a rewarding end to the process to see our suggestions printed and distributed to various Government offices and Think Tanks where our policy idea could have an impact.
We really recommend anyone interested in Policy to sign up to this year’s competition as you will learn a great deal and it’s a fantastic experience. When coming up with an idea for a pitch, think of something that is important, realistic, relevant and can have an impact. More importantly, make the most of experience, don’t worry too much about the result and have fun!