Despite the rise of various digital formats, radio still maintains a strong and vital presence within the media industry.
The main advantage of radio is the that it is an anywhere, anytime medium, thanks to its portability and accessibility. The accessibility of radio enables listening to occur in places that other media may have difficulty reaching, for example when driving.
In Australia, over 10.5 million people listen to a commercial radio station for at least one hour every week of the year. Providing that radio is such a strong medium for broadcasting, it is important to be prepared if the chance arises to give a radio interview.
Do some research
Just as you would a job interview, do some research on the radio station and find out as much as you can. Most of the time you will be able to listen to past interviews the host may have conducted to give you more of an idea about the station and tone of the interview – and the angle the presenter is likely to take.
Find out the location and get comfortable
Find out where the interview is going to take place. Radio interviews can take many forms; they can be live in studio, over the phone or on location of an outside broadcast (OB). If you do have to travel for the interview, make sure you allow plenty of time to get there. Whether you are in the studio or on the phone for the interview, it is important that you are comfortable in your location and you have good phone reception. If possible, find a landline rather than using a mobile phone.
It is important to find out whether the interview is going to be pre-recorded or live. Both types of interviews have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to know. If the interview is pre-recorded, this will allow you to repeat your answers, giving you a bit more leeway if you make a mistake. Try not to rely on this – mostly pre-records are “as live” unless they’re news grabs. A live interview is a different story….
Make a plan and practise
Compile a list of notes with all the points you want to get across and then highlight your top three keywords in order to jog your memory if you were to forget. Just because you know what you want to stay in your head doesn’t mean you will always remember, especially if you are live on air. Make sure you also note down any figures, names or other factual data, which might elude you under pressure.
It is also a good idea to practise getting your points across concisely. This doesn’t mean you need to speak at a fast pace, rather the opposite, speak in a slow, clear manner but make sure you aren’t using too many extra words.
By arriving early, this will allow you to participate in sound checks if needed. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to mingle with the radio station staff and mention topics you’d like to discuss to the host. This time will also allow for you to feel more comfortable as you will most likely be nervous, which is normal!
Repeat your message
Many people who are listening at the beginning of your segment aren’t going to be there at the end. Other listeners will join in the middle. Therefore, repeat your main messages – or themes – numerous times during the interview. Find different ways of articulating the same points to ensure you aren’t using the same words. If you are representing an organisation, be sure to mention the full name of it. Additionally, it is also important to use the interviewer’s name to personalise the interview (if in programs – don’t do this for news) and ensure you are sincere about what it is you are trying to say.
If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it, just keep going. Appear confident even if you are a nervous wreck inside. Take a nice deep breath before you speak, this will allow to stay calm and think about what you are going to say. Stick to the plan and make sure you are clear about your subject and think carefully about the key messages you want to convey. Also, make it conversational – you’re chatting to the host and to the listener. You will be surprised how quickly time goes on radio.
Remember your energy
Being interviewed is like giving a performance. Do your best to appear natural, spontaneous and unrehearsed. Express passion and try to match or slightly exceed the host’s energy level to avoid sounding bland and flat. Many radio stations also visually broadcast the show to viewers online, so it is also important to ensure you do not appear fidgety or make bizarre facial expressions.
Don’t depend on the announcer to make the plug
If you are doing a radio interview, you may be there to promote something – therefore it’s up to you to mention that information a couple of times throughout the interview. Although most experienced hosts are adept at sending their listeners to your product or company website, some aren’t. Keep in mind to not over do it and remember to provide listeners with entertaining content rather than just a promotion.
Learn from your experience
Most radio broadcasts are available online to listen back to after your interview. Listen carefully and see how you could improve. Don’t expect your first interview to be perfect, you can learn from every interview.
Stay in touch
It is also important to stay in touch after your interview. Send a thank you email if appropriate and include your contact details along with a short sentence outlining how you would be more than happy to comment further on any relevant topics or news stories to the nature of your expertise. Send this through to the announcer and to their producers.
Have you been interviewed on radio? What was it like for you?
There is no substitute for getting good media training from a team of experienced professionals. Our team at Adoni Media run a multitude of media training courses tailored to you. Find out more.