How to Cover Speeches

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As journalists there will be many times that you have to cover a speech. We have had many different experiences with that because we have covered forums as undergraduate journalism students at Simpson College. It is rather difficult to cover a speech though due to the dynamics that are involved. Here are some tips that will help you better cover a speech for future stories you may have to write.

1. Report before you go.

Like all interviews and stories get some background research done ahead of time, so that you understand the material that is being presented in the speech.

2. Write background copy ahead of time.

This is possible due to the research done before the speech, and can be immensely helpful if you are writing a tight deadline.

3. Take great notes.

This is a no brainier, and is important in every story you write.

4. Get the good quote.

Usually this is a quote that is very interesting and is said in a unique way. Look for he quotes that are closely related to the topic of the speech.

5. Forget chronology.

Usually the most interesting thing a speaker says comes at the end. Just get the important information down and organize it after you discover your lead.

6. Get the audience reaction.

It always good to get a few audience reactions after the speech, because they can add an emotional quality to your story.

7. Watch for the unexpected.

It's things like these that can make the lead of your story, and then make all the pieces of the story fall into place.

8. Get a crowd estimate.

People that read your article will want to know things like these, because that's just how they differentiate on how famous the person who gave the speech was. Make sure to get a number and be sure to see what type of people are there, for instance: age, gender and class.

With these tips presented and explained you should be able to cover any future speeches flawlessly.

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Kimberly Kurimski April 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM  

This is great advice. When I covered my story for the ICMA convention it was difficult for me. However, it would have been even more difficult had I not done some background information about the speaker. I think that is one of the most important things a reporter must do ahead of time.

Nicole Dillenburg April 18, 2011 at 8:17 PM  

Your advice is great because it is simple yet gets to the point. I once had to cover an event where I did not have the slightest clue about the speaker. So, I did some research on their background which resulted in things things going very well because I new what she was talking about.

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