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Posted on 03.29.2012

Refresher Course in Event Reporting

Earlier this month, I attended Leadership Health Care’s 10-Year Anniversary Delegation to Washington, D.C.  In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Leadership Health Care is an initiative of the Nashville Health Care Council aimed at fostering the next generation of Nashville’s healthcare leaders. Every year LHC organizes a trip to our nation’s capital to hear from lawmakers, Congressional staff, and leaders of key trade associations, among others. During the two-day event, I served as a scribe for LHC – creating blog posts and tweets, coordinating with the photographer and shooting short videos with a Flip camera. The experience was a flashback to working as a reporter. (In fact, one nervous-looking Congressional staffer asked me, “You aren’t with the press, are you?” before participating in a panel discussion on healthcare policy.) And it gave me a two-day refresher course in some of the reporting and writing skills that are important to my job today.
  • Knowing your audience: Especially in a conference environment, when there are many topics and quotes that could form the basis of a story, it’s critical to know who you’re writing to and what those readers care about. Writing to Nashville’s healthcare professionals meant – despite personal interest in certain storylines or colorful quotes – I stuck to the information that seemed most important to inform readers about the content and themes of the delegation.
  • Taking good notes: There’s nothing worse than sitting down to write and being unable to remember the facts or quotes you need to tell the story. I tend to scrawl or type as much I can, verbatim.  It helps me focus on what I’m hearing and increases my chances of having full quotes and thoughts to choose from when I start writing.
  • Writing with a plan: Or an outline. When facing tight deadlines, I try to visualize the structure of the entire story before I dig in. Often, that means writing the opening paragraph then jotting one or two words that indicate the plan for each subsequent paragraph. After that, it’s just filling in the blanks.
  • Managing your time: Writing with a plan is just one aspect of time management. It also means using every spare minute – the breaks between conference sessions, the time it takes a panel moderator to introduce speakers whose biographies you have in print form – to choose the quotes you want to use, upload videos, email photos and start writing.
Overall, I was glad to have been asked to participate in the LHC delegation as a scribe – not only did I get the benefit of the educational and networking opportunities of the event, but I was able to give myself a deadline reporting refresher course.
Photo credit: © 2012 Bill Burke/Page One

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