Making the most of radio interviews

Going into a radio studio for the first time can feel a little strange and the TV equivalent may seem normal in comparison. They are often small, cramped, without windows, full of equipment and flashing lights and yet you have to be able to focus on the interviewer’s voice through the headphones (and you sometimes won’t even be able to see them) and still get your story across.

To make sure you are ready to handle a radio interview successfully, we’ve put together some key things to remember:

Do your research beforehand
– Ask what the first question will be
– Will the interview be live or a pre-record
– Ask what feature or guest will be before/after you
– Make sure you know who the interviewer is
– Find out how long the interview is scheduled for – and make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare
– Come up with suitable answers to any difficult questions you could be asked
– Ask whether there will be any filming – unexpected video or photos might catch you off guard – as Tony Abbott found out when he seemed to forget he was being filmed during a radio phone-in:

Speak plainly and include the listener
– Avoid trying to communicate anything too complicated to explain quickly
– Use a bullet point approach – 3 points at a time works well – this will help listeners follow your argument
– Use everyday language – cut out the jargon and acronyms
– Use illustration and imagery to explain your ideas
– Keep it short – most interviews will be under 3 minutes, make sure you can get your point across, with evidence, in that time
– Don’t feel you have to fill airtime – this is often where people say something they regret – if you’ve answered the question/got your point across, it’s ok to pass the ball back to the interviewer

Make the most of your voice
– Speak slowly
– Use plenty of emphasis
– Vary your tone, pitch and volume to accentuate
– Keep your energy levels up
– Keep roughly at the same distance from the microphone – the studio technician will probably do a sound check first
– Practicing before you go live is very important

Don’t forget body language!
– People can ‘hear a smile’ – smiling lifts your voice and will show some warmth to the interviewer
– Don’t lean over the desk or cross your arms – this can restrict your breathing and make you sound nervous
– Make sure you turn off your mobile as it can cause feedback and interference
– Put away anything that can cause a distracting noise for the audience e.g. jangling jewellery, shuffled papers or clicking pens
– Relax and try to enjoy the experience – if you’ve done the preparation, you should be fine!

If you are going to face the broadcast media, you need to be sure you can manage the possible risks and make the most of the opportunity – we would strongly suggest attending a media training course to find out more about the theory behind good media relations and to practice your individual style and approach under realistic questioning. For more information on how we can help please get in touch with us.

Written by Will Edwards – – January 2015

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