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BREATHE, LISTEN AND SMILE Or How I survived radio interviews without pissing my pants

Vintage Radios

So, you’ve been asked to come on the radio to talk about your business.
That’s actually amazing! Radio is a highly engaged and relevant media outlet for you to gain a new following and alert people to the exciting work that you do.
But, OMG, I have to speak to someone live on air, into a big microphone! For like, five minutes?! Sure, it can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it can also be heaps of fun and an awesome promotional method.
To help you along, here’s some things I’ve learnt along the way during my career which helped me not only survive the process but make the most of it.

Do some research

Who will you be meeting with at the radio station? Who are their listeners? Which show are you on? What is the match between your target market and their listening demographic? Not only will this help you with what to discuss in your key talking points (below), it will provide you with a level of confidence and understanding that alleviates anxiety. Greeting people by name when you shake their hand manifests a “business” confidence that will help you to feel good too.

Key talking points

Whilst the interviewer will usually have some idea what it is you’re there to discuss, they will have an angle that they feel best suits their listeners (usually as a result of seeing your media release). If you’ve prepared some of the key information that you want to get across, it will help you a lot. This is especially important if you’re discussing something specific like an event, for example. Start with the facts. Memorise the location and opening times. Have the names of some stallholders at the ready. List some of the items available at the event. Think about anything unusual that will appeal to the listeners of that radio station in particular. If you’re short on time make sure you find a way to get your website mentioned in there somewhere. That’s what the listeners want too, and it’s key for your goals.

Take water

I don’t know about you, but I get massively pasty mouth when I’m nervous. It makes speaking VERY difficult when your lips get stuck to your gums and your tongue flails around in the back of your throat seeking that one ounce of moisture available. So there’s an easy fix here, take a bottle of water. Make it sealed, that way you can’t spill it in the studio on any expensive equipment. Take SIPS. Do not make yourself need to wee in the middle of the important interview because that will create anxiety.

Be natural

There’s no secret to how to not sound nervous. You will sound like you’re nervous if you’re nervous and there’s not much you can do about it. So the important thing to remember is to be warm and friendly. When you’re talking, smile and take a little time. A pause to you feels like an eon, but to the audience it’s not even remotely as long as it seems to you. It’s OK to pause to think about your next word. In fact, it’s better to take your time, pause and breathe than to say uuuuummmmmm each time you’re not sure of what to say. The interviewer can see you, and they can see you’re thinking, and they won’t interrupt you. Time FLIES when you’re doing this; if you think 5 minutes seems like ages going in, you’ll be stunned when it’s finished. As a result, it’s important to get your key points out as early as possible provided they’re suitable in response to the questions being asked.

Have the conversation

Listen. Make sure you listen. Be attentive to the interviewer. If you don’t listen properly to the question you won’t answer it properly. Breathe before responding, and think of ways you can possibly cue the interviewer that you’re about to finish your sentence. This helps them know that they are able to ask you another question. It’s really about just being there in the conversation.
Sometimes on radio, the interviewer won’t be looking at you while you talk, as they take the opportunity to line up the next song, advertisement or look at something else in their schedule. Don’t be put off, there’s plenty of people still listening on the other side of the microphone. Do pay attention to the interviewer; they will often give you a conversational signal that it might be time to wrap things up. Don’t be the person that they can’t shut up.

Imagine you’re talking to your Nan on the phone

OK so this might sound patronising but it’s not about that. It’s about finding succinct, clear ways to communicate in a short space of time. To me, that was how I spoke to my Nan. Perhaps there’s someone you might be able to imagine you’re talking to when you have your interview that helps put you in a safe space, where you don’t speak too fast, where you choose your words carefully and concisely so that they cut through to be understood immediately. That’s what’s important on radio especially when hand gestures and facial expressions are invisible.

Be appreciative and follow up with a thank you

It’s always good to keep your media channels open. Send a thank you follow up to the production team and/or the interviewer thanking them for providing you with the opportunity to gain new customers. This will also show to them that you’re appreciative and enhances your chance of being asked back.

Feel the feels

Once you’ve done things like this they give you a great sense of achievement and that post-adrenaline “I did it!” feeling. Even if you haven’t gone amazingly, you’ve pushed through a personal barrier and a little part of you looks forward to the next time so you can be even better!

Listen to the recording

OK this is really the hard part to be honest. Listening to recordings of yourself talking makes all of us cringe. So the best way to get used to it, and to see how you went, is to listen back to the recording or podcast (almost every radio station has them now), play it back and see how you went. Did you say um a lot? Did you talk too fast? Did you come across as warm and friendly even if you were nervous? Did you talk over the interviewer? Did you manage to get all of the key points out? Ask other people to have a listen and provide their critique. Listen to the feedback and take it on, make notes for next time. There will be a next time.
So first up is to breathe. Make sure you don’t need to wee before you go in to the studio. Make sure you listen and respond naturally with a smile on your face. If you’re prepared appropriately, then you’ll be fine!
Good luck and smash it to pieces!


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D’Alton Baker Productions support creative Australian businesses with a variety of special services and mentoring.


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