Scout ‘Speak Up’ Event – 23 to 24 October 2010


Thought I’d just keep the blog up-to-date!

This weekend I was in Bath, at their YMCA, for an event in preparation for my Scout Jamboree adventure. It was free to attend, but there were only 30ish places. The idea behind it is to prepare some ‘Jamboreers’ to be able to talk to journalists if needed.

We focused on three areas of media: radio, TV, and print. Each mock-interview was – despite asking almost identical questions – carried out in slightly different ways. For example, when there is only a microphone you can have a page of notes in front of you. In TV, though, we had to be able to spontaneously craft quality answers without any aids.

The most important thing I learnt was ‘acknowledge, bridge, control’. This is a technique whereby, if an interviewer is leading you into a difficult situation with deliberately misleading questions, you must make some kind of brief answer to the question, but quickly steer the conversation to where you want to go. This is more important in radio and TV where your answer to any question will be heard word-for-word. An example:

Interviewer: Hello. Now I see you’re girls, but you’re here to talk about some Scout camp. How can that work? Surely you should be in Guides?

Interviewee: Girls have been going to Scouts for over 20 years now, with 104,000 members in the movement today, yet through Scouting boys and girls are all united. The World Scout Jamboree is nothing like any other camp in the world: it’s a huge celebration of everything Baden Powell’s organisation stands for. Imagine 30,000 young people all on one field for ten days. What a buzz!

As the evening entertainment last night, we did a third-party ‘ghost walk’ around the beautiful city. It’s the first time I’d ever done one, but from other people’s experiences I’d been told that they involve people jumping out on you. For much of the start, I was rude about it and how silly all of the stories were. But then I realised, ‘Actually, this guy’s an actor and this is a piece of promenade alfresco theatre.’ Adopting this new, less scathing attitude, I enjoyed it much more – yet I was disappointed by the lack of ‘ghosts’!

I really enjoyed the weekend, and learnt so much. As someone fascinated by this area of work, it was an incredibly useful exercise to do. Thanks to the organisers for such a great 48 hours.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.