Interviews and Debates and Speeches, Oh My!

The ruby slippers as worn by Gov. Palin.Somebody needs to remind Alaska’s Governor Palin about the differences between an interview, a debate and a speech. Oh, well doggone it, I’ll do it.

Interview: This is a format in which a reporter asks questions and the interviewee answers them. The interviewee–in this case you, Gov. Palin–doesn’t get to choose the questions. That would be more like a town hall or Ask the WhiteHouse as hosted by the White House. Sometimes the questions might be a surprise and sometimes if you don’t answer the question or you try to “pivot,” the reporter tries to pin you down with a follow-up question. The reporter gets paid to get to new information. You shouldn’t be annoyed when they do their job and follow the structure of a standard interview rather than a Speech (see below).

Debate: Here is another one where the format is already known. In political debates, the first thing that happens is that there is alot of negotiations regarding whether the debators (the candidates) sit or stand, limits on time and engagement, and even topics. The campaigns also decide on debate moderators. All this happens weeks before your preparation begins. So, it’s important to know what the rules are in order to know what to expect, but since your team is part of making the rules, it’s easy enough to find out.

During the debate, what happens is the moderator asks some questions, and you respond to those questions. It’s perfectly okay to direct your response to the pre-scripted talking points that you wish to cover. Everyone does that. It is not so okay, however, to say “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people.” When you talk straight to the American people in an unfiltered way, that is called a Speech (see below) not a Debate.

Speech: This is when you get to say whatever you want, for as long as you want, to the audience that you want. You can take questions, or not. But remember, not every exchange when you speak to the public is a Speech. You have been doing mostly speeches, so dagnabbit, maybe you forgot what happens in other venues, see Interview and Debate above.

Last reminder Gov., you’re not in Wasilla anymore.

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