Doing live and taped interviews on the radio is an effective way to promote your business, your products, your book, or your knowledge and expertise, if you are trying to become a Recognized Expert in your field. Not only are there many national radio shows that may want to book you as a guest, but also there are syndicated shows that air in markets around the country as well as shows on local radio stations that are always looking for interesting, informative people to interview. In addition, there are now many Internet radio stations, like BlogTalk Radio, for example.
Although some radio shows will only books guests who can do in-studio interviews, most shows these days will allow you to do an interview from your home or office. However, nearly all of them require that your phone be a landline and not a cell because the quality of sound is not always good when someone uses a cell and cell phone connections can be unreliable.
Some radio shows archive interviews on their web sites as podcasts. If you do an interview that is available as a podcast, put a link to it on your own site and post the link on the social media sites you’re active on.
Given the potential value of doing radio interviews, it’s critical that you know how to be a good guest. Here are tips that will help you have a successful radio interview:
• Think About the Main Points You Want to Make During Your Interview. Spend time before the day of your interview, identifying the key points you want to make during the interview – what do you want listeners to take away from it? Then write those points on a piece of paper and keep that paper in front of you when you do the interview.
• Use Sound Bites, Analogies and Anecdotes. When appropriate, short, memorable, sometimes witty statements, interesting comparisons, and stories can be effective and entertaining ways to convey information during an interview.
• Provide Interview Questions Ahead of Time. Offering a radio host a suggested set of questions to ask you during your interview is an excellent way to help ensure that you have the opportunity to make the points you’d like to get across. Although many interviewers will ask for questions, if that doesn’t happen, don’t hesitate to offer them. (If you’re working with a publicist, he or she should make the offer for you.) Be forewarned however: Although some interviewers will stick to your list of questions, others will pick and choose from the list and may throw in their own questions too.
• Practice Makes Perfect. If you have little or no interview experience, it’s a good idea before your interview to do some practice interviews. I always spend time with clients who are new to radio going over the questions they are likely to be asked, critiquing their responses to those questions, and offering suggestions for how they might rephrase or shorten their answers. Not only do these practice sessions help my clients improve their interview skills, but the sessions also help them build their interview self-confidence.
• Find Out How the Interview Will Work. Make sure that you know who will initiate the interview – will the show call you or are you responsible for calling the studio – whether the interview will be live or taped, and if it will be live, if you’ll be asked to take calls from listeners. Also, regardless of who will initiate the interview, always get a number you can use to reach the show’s producer or host in case there is a problem at the last minute that affects your ability to do the interview.
• Know Where You Are Going. If you will be doing an in-studio interview and you’re not sure where the station is located or where you can park your car, drive to the station before the day of the interview. Your trial trip will tell you about how long the drive will take and minimize the likelihood that you become stressed and panicked on the day of the interview because you can’t find the station or parking. That experience could rattle you and cause you to have a bad interview.
• Be Early. If you will be doing an in-studio interview, arrive at the radio station a little early. If you’re doing a phoner, be by your phone 5 minutes or so before the interview is scheduled to begin. The show’s producer may call you before the start of the interview to make sure that you are there, that there is no static on the phone line, and so on.
• Keep Your Answers Short and To The Point. You’ll lose your audience if you provide long, overly detailed or rambling answers to an interviewer’s questions. Furthermore, given that some radio interviews can be quite short – maybe just 5 to 10 minutes long — if your answers are too long, the interview may be over before you’ve had a chance to make your main points.
• Pay Attention and Be Responsive. During an interview, listen carefully to the questions you are asked and as best you can provide answers to each one.
• Express Opinions. Don’t be afraid to state what you think. The media love guests who have something interesting to say and your listeners are more apt to remember you if you have opinions. However, avoid sounding bombastic, arrogant or dismissive of people who don’t share your thinking.
• State the Essentials. During an interview, make sure that you mention the URL for your web site and the name of your company, book or whatever it is that you want to promote, assuming it’s relevant to the subject of the interview. A good interviewer will mention this information for you, usually when you are introduced, but if it doesn’t happen, try to slip the information in at an appropriate point in the interview – maybe at the end. If you do however, avoid sounding like an advertisement for yourself.
• Be Prepared to Take Charge. Occasionally you may encounter a host who does little or nothing to guide you through your interview. If that happens you’ll have the opportunity to steer the interview in the direction you want it to go.
• Be Polite. If the host of the show you are a guest on is antagonistic towards you, maintain your cool and be polite. The same advice applies if you take calls from listeners during an interview and some of the callers are confrontational or ask you questions that you think are irritating or off-the-wall.