- Allow yourself private time prior to the interview. Use this time to relax and focus. Imagine that you are speaking with the interviewer face to face. Rehearse the points you want to make, and remember that you can never be too prepared.
- Seek a quiet spot for the interview. If you are speaking from home, close yourself off in a room with few distractions. Turn off your computer, TV, or radio, and clear your desk so nothing can take your mind off the conversation.
- Write your main points before the call begins. Do not read scripted responses from a pre-printed sheet, because reporters can tell when something is being read to them and they’re not receiving honest answers. But do prepare a note card with three to five topics you would like to touch upon during the interview. That way you won’t struggle with an answer during the interview.
- Show that you care about the reporter and his or her story. Be helpful and responsive to his or her requests. Ask the interviewer what you can do to make his or her job easier. Then really listen to the answer and be an eager, accessible source of information.
- Stand while giving the interview. Even though you’re talking on the phone, act as if you were giving a live presentation and stand tall. Standing will raise your energy level, and you will be more alert than if you were sitting. Radio interviewers love energy and can really pick up on your mood.
- Smile, and answer honestly and sincerely. People can hear your smile over the phone, and a reporter will feel more comfortable after hearing the joy in your voice. Also, the sound of smiling builds a rapport with interviewers. If they feel they can trust you, they will think of you first for their next interview.
- Put energy and spunk into your voice. No one wants to listen to a monotonous drone on the radio, and reporters and producers know this. So even before the interview, assure the radio reporters that you’ll be pleasant to the listeners’ ears by putting energy into your voice. This could make the difference between a mundane interview and a great conversation.
- Have backup information handy. Reporters will inevitably ask you one question you don’t want to or can’t answer (this is another place your note card comes in handy). If you are unable to respond, you can say, “That brings up an interesting point...” and then go on to one of your prepared statements. Or you can offer to find out the answer to the question and get back to them as soon as possible.
- Be concise. The average answer to a given question is only nine seconds long. If you cannot convey your message in this short amount of time, your answer will not be used. So be careful not to ramble, and stick to the facts. Don’t overload the reporter with unnecessary information that is not directly related to the story.
- Be forthright. Answer the reporter’s questions accurately and thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to give away too much information. Many business professionals fear that they might give too much away and then no one will buy their product or service. But it’s impossible to spoil years of experience and training in a five-minute radio interview, and the radio listeners will actually want more when you give them a little. So answer the questions, and don’t say, “You’ll find the answer to that when you buy my product or service.”
- Use the word “you” often. The word “you” draws listeners in and helps them relate to what you’re saying. And always give listeners reasons to pay attention by adding benefit statements to the facts in your presentation.
- Let the reporter lead the conversation. The reporter most likely has an agenda for the story’s development already in mind, so don’t attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the reporter doesn’t want to cover.
- Incorporate personal experiences into your responses. Audiences love to hear first-hand accounts of experiences relating to the topic. It helps them feel as if they know you personally. But make sure you stay on topic and don’t get distracted by your story.
- Be prepared to back up your claims. Reporters want factual information. So instead of saying, “The majority of people do this...” say, “Eighty-five percent of my clients do this...” And don’t say, “I think” or “maybe.” Speak with authority and confidence.
- Find future stories. After the interview, thank the reporter and ask what other stories he or she is covering. Even if these other stories don’t directly pertain to your business, explain how you can be beneficial to what he or she is investigating.
Although a radio interview usually only entails a 10-minute phone call, you still need to take your time and prepare for it beforehand. You don’t have to shower and shave, but you do need to have energy and excitement in your voice. During the call, you want to put your best foot forward with clear, honest, and accurate responses. And when you’re finished, don’t forget to thank the reporter and offer to help on other stories.
When you use these 15 tips for giving great radio interviews, you’ll communicate a professional, expert image to the reporter and the audience for you and your business.
About the Author
Pam Lontos is the owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers and authors. Having been an author, speaker, and former vice president of Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good publicity and how to use it to really boost your business. Call for a free consultation at 407-299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at www.prpr.net.