Top 5 tips for live tweeting a speech in Government

I would go so far as to say live tweeting a speech is the most stressful thing you can do on twitter.

We regularly do it from accounts I manage, and I think we now have it down to a fine art. Here are my top 5 tips….

  1. Get a copy of the speech in advance
    This is the most helpful thing you can do. It gives you the luxury of time to get your head around the content of the speech.
  2. Prepare the tweets
    Ensure you have covered the key points – you might want to liaise with policy colleagues to make sure you have picked their key messages. You can research and add hashtags, @names and make sure you can fit each tweet into 140 characters. I usually save the tweets in a notepad document for copying and pasting across. It can also be helpful to get someone to proof read the tweets and make sure the nuances of the wording haven’t been changed by reducing it to 140 characters.
  3. Choose a tweeting method
    If the event is being broadcast live, the easiest way to tweet the speech is from the comfort of your own computer. But if not, it’s worth thinking about the worst case scenario – no WiFi, or even no 3G coverage. You can always tweet via SMS – and this is sometimes the best way as you can set the tweets up as draft SMS messages.
  4. Alert your followers that you’ll be live tweeting
    Your followers might want to tune is specially, or on the other hand they might not be too thrilled at suddenly having tons of tweets in their timeline with no warning. I always add the time (and, as we’re an international twitter account, the time zone), but caveat it with an “approx”.
  5. Check against delivery
    Before sending the tweets, make sure the speaker has actually said what you have drafted – last minute tweaks may be necessary!

If you’ve got any more tips on live tweeting, please do let me know!

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Corey McCarren

Numbers 1 and 5 are definitely key for making sure you are getting the right message across. A friend once asked me to livetweet a debate for her and of course I didn’t have a copy of what the presidential candidates would be saying or anything — extraordinarily frustrating.

Samuel Lovett

This is really helpful advice. Hopefully it will give people more confidence to attempt live tweeting of speeches because I’ve always found this to be a great form of public outreach and engagement.

You touched on hash tags but I would also make the point that branding your livetweet with its own event hashtag (like #sotu12 for this years State of the Union) helps encourage other people to watch the speech and add their own opinions, creating good buzz.

Ori Hoffer

If it’s a panel, or you don’t have the speech in advance, try to listen for laugh lines, use headlines on slides (if they’re using them) and just trust your instincts.

By promoting the speech hashtag in advance (or at least at the start of the event), you may also get others tweeting as well – be sure to retweet some of them to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.

Samuel Lovett

@ori — good call with the retweeting of others in your conversation. That’s an effective technique on a lot of different levels: you can emphasize certain parts of the messaging, and harness other peoples’ opinions and insights.