A common image associated with ALAMAU is committee sessions, placards, cool suits and big words (like moderated caucuses). However, there is a lot more that goes on behind-the-scenes, especially in our department. The Press Corps team documents conference experiences and presents them to you, our audience, mainly through the newspaper and blog. These are our main publications but we also do press conferences after committee sessions. In this edition of “Press…What?” series, we will be exploring what a typical ALAMAU Press Conference looks like, through the lens of the Press Corps.
Press Conferences are formal events where all delegates share the progress in their individual committee sessions. Running for 30 minutes in the afternoon, our team gears up 10 minutes in advance with pens, papers, questions and of course, the famous reflector jackets.
Heading in the press room, you can have a lot of expectations: delegates will be on time, they will have sound knowledge about in their topic and you will not forget to mention your news agency as you speak. Of course, not all of these will happen, but you must be geared to for the unexpected and be versatile.
When entering the press room, you have a few minutes to set up and tick the following off your mental checklist:
1) Be attentive. Due to limited time, most delegates will speak so fast and you may not fully understand what they are saying. But write down what you do understand and then ask what you do not understand.
2) Ask as many questions as possible, but be reasonable whilst doing it. Imagine there is a massive audience behind you and they want to fully understand what the delegates just said. Your questions will help frame their understanding in the right way. Be sure to ask meaningful questions that add to the information gap. Do not ask questions that have an obvious answer but one that “improves upon the silence” (Shirdi Sai Baba).
3) Don’t forget where you are from. Remember, you are representing a news agency. Always begin your question by stating where you are reporting from. A cool format you could use is “My name is xxxx reporting from The Guardian” or “Excuse me, madam, Al Jazeera would like to know.”
The ALAMAU Press Conference may not be a real one but it equips you with real, relevant skills. You learn to listen intently, to ask questions and of course, public speaking.
Convinced to apply to the Press Corps committee yet? If not, don’t worry. Our next few posts will probably convince you!