Simpler, easier radio interviews

Doing a radio interview may seem hard at first, but there are many ways you can make radio interviews easier and more effective. You can even make them enjoyable.

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As a result you can make more use of radio to promote your farm produce, products, services, art, community organization or business.

The first step is to get clear on your purpose in doing the interview.

You may have been approached to do the interview because the radio station sees you as popular, interesting, unusual or because you have some expertise.

But even if you were invited to do the interview, you must have a reason for doing it - after all, you did say "Yes".

Once you are clear on your purpose, you can structure the interview to help you achieve that.

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To do this, you need to know who the audience is. The radio station should be able to tell you that.

Plus you may be more appealing to a certain people in the audience rather than to the audience as a whole.

For example, you may want to get your message across to the farmers in your area and to do this you might structure your message such that it appeals to the male or female farmer.

Alternatively, you may design your message so that it appeals to their children or to their partner, because this is sometimes the easiest way to get a message across.

Plan what you want to say

A good way to work out what you want to say is to develop a list of the results you want your interview to have on listeners. For example,

If you are a farmer wanting to promote your produce on sale at the local markets this Saturday If you are an artist wanting to promote your exhibition that opens this Saturday at 7 pm
At the end of the interview, listeners will know:
  • WHO I AM: Fred Bloggs, farmer from Lewis Ponds, Australia
  • WHAT'S NEW: I produce delicious organic free-range eggs and organic fresh salad vegetables
  • WHAT'S HAPPENING: I will be offering tastings
  • WHEN: on this Saturday from 8 am
  • WHERE: at the Lewis Ponds organic markets
  • Admission to the markets is free.
  • Tastings are free.
  • Eggs and vegetables are for sale.
  • I also want them to know that they can come to the farm open day held on the Sunday before each Equinox and Solstice
At the end of the interview, listeners will know:
  • WHO I AM: Fred Bloggs, landscape painter, living in Katoomba, Australia
  • WHAT'S NEW: I'm just back from a trip to Mugwump supermarket with a series of paintings inspired by what I saw
  • WHAT'S HAPPENING: My exhibition "Trolleys in a cultural desert" will be launched by Premier Fred Nihil
  • WHEN: on Saturday at 7 pm
  • WHERE: at Blue Mountains Regional Gallery in the Renaissance Center
  • Drinks and nibbles will be served.
  • Admission to the launch and the exhibition is free and the exhibition runs for three weeks.
  • Paintings are for sale.

  • You may also want them to know that they can commission you to paint:
    • murals
    • portraits
    • other paintings

Below is a blank of the above table for you to fill with your information to prepare for your interview. Before that is a summary of the information you might want to give your listeners or readers, the preparation you do for a radio interview is usually fairly similar to what you would do for a press interview or television interview.

At the end of the interview, listeners will know:
  • WHO I AM: Name, what I do, where I come from, other info as relevant.
  • WHAT'S NEW: I produce, create, sell, perform etc
  • WHAT'S HAPPENING: I will be doing ... You can do, get etc ...
  • WHEN: What day? What time?
  • WHERE: Location and how to get there
  • Admission costs ....
  • Other aspects such as Tastings cost ...
  • I also want them to know that ...

At the end of the interview, listeners will know:
  • WHO I AM:
  • WHEN: What day? What time?
  • WHERE:
  • Admission costs ....
  • Other aspects cost ...
  • I also want them to know that ...




The first step in getting these results is to interest your listeners in coming along. So your produce, performance or paintings must come to life in their minds.

It is not just television that delivers vivid moving pictures Radio paints a picture if you use the right tools.
Unless what you are presenting outside of the interview (your product) translates well to radio (such as music, a poem, an excerpt from a play etc), the best way to interest listeners is to have them connect with you as a person, rather than with your product, art, service or performance.

So, one of the key results you want for your audience is that they connect with you enough to come, to buy or to make use of your product or service.

Anecdotes - stories from your life are excellent for getting the message across and conveying the life in your message. They round you out - a lot of media is fairly flat.

This is particularly so if the speaker is nervous, wooden or otherwise lacking in color. These are known as talking heads in television and radio. It is like a head that has no body, no life and no variation. Dullsville.

The words are being transmitted, but the person is not. Most listeners want to relate to the person they are listening to. They may
Your anecdotes, personality, warmth and ease will all affect how they perceive you.

Sound effects

You may be able to use a good quality recording for some sound effects - check with the station first and give them a copy of it, ideally in digital format that suits their system. You could use eggs sizzling in the frying pan, chickens clucking contentedly or sheep baaing in the background or anything else that people might associate with your farming.

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Developing your message

Put your key message - dates, times etc into a single paragraph or a few short paragraphs that will get it across to any person you have not met before. This will often need a bit of tidying - breathless long paragraphs don't work well in any medium, even face to face.

Plan a logical sequence for the topics and highlight important areas.

Get all your points on a single sheet so that you can be sure to make them all.

Make a spare points collection: Have few spare points or topics up your sleeve so you can fill any gaps if the interviewer wants to keep going or if you race through your material.

Remember that Difference Drives Delivery: If you want to get a message across, the same old stuff is not as effective as something different.

Assisting the media to make best use of you

Find out how long a typical interview is. Practise saying it all clearly at a reasonable speed with all your questions in less than that. If your material is too long or if something doesn't fit, cut some out and put it into your spare points collection.

Get familiar with your content. Notice how when a person being interviewed fluffs a question, their subsequent performance takes a while to come back to normal. You can minimize such problems by being very familiar with your material.

You might offer the interviewer a background list of topics, facts, questions and answers covering all that you want to talk about on air. This usually assists them and is likely to make the interview work better for you.

Know who you are sending this information to - their name, role in the station and their contact details - phone numbers, email, postal address. Contact them just before you send it, and get their preferred way to receive such material - email, phone, post or by hand. Send it and follow up a few days later. When you do this follow-up call, be prepared to record an interview over the phone there and then - it's often the easiest for them and for you.

Be prepared with some suitable answers for the questions you can't tackle now, choose not to or would rather ignore. For example:

During the interview

Avoid jargon from your field. People outside your field will not understand it or will understand it differently. Since you are trying to communicate, there is little point in confusing people or leaving them unhappy because you don't speak their language.
Also avoid using formalized language such as bureaucrats and politicians use to hide the real meaning.

Stick with the language of your audience and when in doubt, use a level of complexity and sophistication that is a little lower, without being patronizing.

Using that sheet with your points on it, tick each point off as you go. I find I get too caught up in the interview to tick them off as I go. So I check down the list from time to time and notice something I have missed and bring it into the conversation,

Link each of your answers to the question and be prepared to answer with more than you were asked - without turning it into a monologue. A conversation is much more interesting than a talk from one person.

Messages stick to listeners who act

Giving important info and getting the listener to act on it helps anchor your message.

This is because the listener now has a result outside their own head:
It is not just the result of the action, the content of what they wrote is now more firmly cemented into their life.

Getting information from two different sources or linking the info to two things in our lives helps us remember things.

When the listener acted to get that result, they got a second bite at the cherry. The first bite was when they heard it. The second bite comes in the form of a physical sensation as they write it down or in the visual impact of the words on paper.

Why "a second bite at the cherry"? Because a cherry is small and most of the actions people take are small. But if enough people take enough actions, you will be very busy this Saturday.

People have three primary modes of learning:
There are other modes, including Olfactory (smelling) and Gustatory (tasting) but they are generally less important. But they may be very important if you are selling delicious organic free-range eggs and salads.

Most of us use all modes effectively but have a dominant learning style. Many people listening to radio may be dominant in the auditory mode, but some will not be. So if they are primarily visual or kinesthetic learners, the second bite can be much more effective than the first if it is delivered in another more suitable mode.

So give people something to do - write a phone number down (Kinesthetic followed by Visual), note this date in their diary (ditto), some easy thing to cement what they have been hearing with some action.

Or give them a tool if you can. If it is a good tool, they will use it and probably associate it with your interview. If they have connected with you they will associate it with you.

Some examples of actions people can take and tools you can give them are:
Where details are important or difficult and people need to write them down, warn that they may need a pen and paper and you are about to say them or will say them shortly.

This allows listeners to organize pen and paper - a lot of people don't have them to hand near the phone or where they listen to the radio.

Make it clear and simple and then "I will repeat that in a moment". Talk about something else and warn "I am about to repeat those contact details". Then do so clearly and at a reasonable pace for writing.

Dealing with nerves

I remember an interview with one of the world's great Shakespearean actors many years ago. He admitted that he was extremely nervous every time he went on stage, despite having performed in front of adoring audiences all his life. And he had been knighted for his superb acting.

Nervousness is often suppressed excitement - someone trying to keep the lid on their excitement. Even if you like to project an image of always being calm, sometimes it is good to let it out without becoming hyperactive and over the top.

A little excitement carries a level of enthusiasm and passion that delivers the message well. Just be relaxed at the same time as being excited and the message will be boosted with no negative effects.

Passion is a great communication tool. Allow your excitement to flow and your passion for your subject can carry it to the listener's heart as well as their brain.

Radio has a range of voices, opinions and people. So your voices, opinions and unique personality have a place and will be most welcome, even if you are not as polished as a politician. Often that lack of polish makes you more real, you haven't been buffed and tidied by the spin doctors who are responsible for so many stars these days.

Remember that even the most experienced radio personalities fluff it sometimes.

So allow yourself to be yourself, most listeners want real people too, not just stars.

Before the interview, practise with a friend. Get the friend to ask every question on your list plus every curly question they can think of. Once you are comfortable with the interview process, you may feel like asking them to try to trip you up to train you, but not to destroy your confidence. If you can't get a suitable friend in time to practise with, use a voice recorder.

If you are still unsure, ask the interviewer to do the interview over the telephone. This way you may feel more as if you are chatting with a friend. Hearing your own voice on recording or radio is odd for most people, but only for the first few hundred times.

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Record your interview if you can

A recording of your interview is handy
To get a good recording, listen to the station on a radio/voice recorder before your interview is scheduled. Have it set up, tested and ready for recording.

Turn the radio down when the phone rings so that it doesn't feed back through the telephone and start up a series of squawks etc.

Press Record and answer the phone.

If you get a decent recording you will be able to listen to it a few times to:
Just remember to be gentle on yourself. The audience is probably not as critical of you as you may be of yourself. Also, most audience members don't have the recording to play endlessly, checking on nuances.

So use the recording as a tool, not as a tyrant.

A suitable next step might be:
Plan your next radio interview using the methods outlined here plus what you have learned elsewhere.

If you are looking at a printed version of this page and you would like to visit it on the internet and get a stack of other info that may assist you, the full web address is

Related info:

Radio paints a picture

Some cautions when dealing with the media

Dealing with the Media workshop

Difference Drives Delivery

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Doing a radio interview may seem difficult, but you can make them easier and more effective. You can even make them enjoyable.

As a result you can make more use of radio to promote your farm produce, products, services, art, community organization or business.

You can structure the interview to help you achieve that. Find out who the audience is. Then get yourself ready to have a conversation with them and to make sure that you cover all the points you want covered in a logical and enjoyable matter.

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This page was updated on December 27, 2007