Top Tips: 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 almost normal in comparison. Radio studios 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 prepare for, and then face a radio interview successfully, we’ve put together these top tips:


Do your research beforehand 

  • Find out in advance if 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 and do some research on them
  • Think about the audience, the BBC’s Today Programme will be different from Times Radio
  • Find out how long the interview is scheduled for – and make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare
  • Work on your answers, consider any difficult questions you could be asked
  • Ask whether there will be any filming – unexpected video or photos might catch you off guard
  • Ask the producer or interviewer what the first question will be


Speak plainly and include the listener 

  • Avoid trying to communicate anything too complicated to explain, too many facts and figures don’t work well on radio
  • Use a bullet point approach – a maximum of 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 or imagery to paint a picture and explain your ideas, imagine you are leading the audience through your story
  • Keep it short – most interviews will be under 3 minutes, make sure you can get your point across, with evidence, in that time (and breaking news could cut your interview even shorter)
  • 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, if you rush you could lose the listener
  • Use plenty of emphasis, radio waves tend to flatten or dull voices
  • Vary your tone, pitch and volume to accentuate
  • Keep your energy levels up
  • Stay at roughly the same distance from the microphone – the studio technician will probably do a sound check first (you can ask for this too)
  • 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
  • Plant yourself firmly in your chair, or adopt a solid stance if standing
  • Don’t lean over the desk or cross your arms – this can restrict your breathing and make you sound anxious
  • 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, rustled 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 do radio interviews, you need to be sure you can manage the possible risks and make the most of the opportunity – we would strongly suggest attending our broadcast 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.


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