Listen Up! Tips for Giving Great Radio Interviews

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(This article was written by Mike Dacri and was published in Consulting Magazine, February 2013 issue)

Radio interviews are a great tool to position yourself as an expert, gain visibility, leverage your services, promote your book, and sell your products. But there are good radio interviews and there are bad interviews—you never want to give one of the bad ones.

Think of a radio interview like a dance: you may have asked her to dance and received a “yes,” but you still have to go out on the floor and impress her. Remember, you are on a mission. You are selling your services as well as yourself.

Here are few tips I have learned over the years as a publicist to help you give great interviews and just maybe earn some business so you can sell your products as well!

  1. Don’t Put Everyone to Sleep: The perfect guest has energy and passion, but when you lack energy and speak like you just rolled out of bed, you lose your audience fast! Kick it up a notch without going over the top. Remember, most radio interviews take place during the morning drive!
  2. Get to The Point: It’s a radio interview, not a Sunday ride in the country. In your first sentence or two, you must grab your audience and convey your message. Otherwise, everyone will turn their radio dials.
  3. Don’t Cut Off the Host: Passion is important, and we know you want to speak, but don’t talk over your host or this will be your last interview on their show. Remember, you’re a guest.
  4. Don’t Be the “Same Ole, Same Ole”: Be interesting. Be different. Don’t be afraid to be contrarian. Provide a sound bite that hooks the audience and gets them thinking. Otherwise they’ll forget about you before the interview even ends.
  5. Know Your Value: Every host and listener is asking, “Why should I care about what you have to say?” or “Why should I buy your book?” In fact, expect your host to ask these questions directly. If you can’t answer with a powerful, insightful response, you’ve just missed a golden opportunity to sell your book, and you probably should have skipped the interview all together.
  6. Don’t Read a Script: Radio interviews are about conversations with your host. Never read a script. Having notes is OK, but if you’re simply going to read your notes, you might as well email it in. They want to hear from you—you’re the subject expert, so demonstrate it by conversing with the host and your audience.
  7. Be Current: Radio interviews are not book reports. The host may ask you questions about what’s going on in the news so you don’t want to seem like you live in a cave and just write books all day. Read the newspaper (either online or a physical copy) and watch the news.
  8. Research the Show Before the Interview: The old saying about knowing your audience is true, but knowing your host is equally important. If your host is a shock jock, be ready for something crazy. And if you’re on an FM morning show, expect pop culture. Listen to shows in advance. Hosts are consistent. If he or she debates someone on their show, expect a debate. Not all hosts are nice! Even if you don’t live in the host’s market, you can stream their show online through their website or apps like TuneIn Radio, I Heart Radio, and Radio.com
  9. News Flash—The Host Most Likely Didn’t Read Your Book: I hate to tell you the cold hard truth, but there is about a 90% chance the host did not read your book. Some do, but most don’t. They do read summaries of the books, but they get hundreds of books and speak with authors every day, so they don’t have time to read all books. Sorry! Try sending them a summary with the key points. This makes the host’s job easier, and you’ll likely to get a better interview.
  10. Not All interviews Last a Long Time: You may think you’re scheduled for a ten-minute interview, but it may actually last only two minutes. It’s not you—it’s the way the show works. Don’t take it personally. But remember, there is a good chance that someone listening will walk away with your name and the title of your book. They may even Google you later or the host may run a giveaway promotion, which will get listeners excited about your book.
  11. Push Your Social Media: I have had clients tell listeners to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and it was amazing watching the amount of likes and follows rise by the end of the day. Try it, but wait until the end of the show. Many hosts end their interview by saying “Do you have a website?” This is the opportunity to give them your book’s website and then tell something like “and you can follow me on Twitter at (your Twitter handle) or on Facebook at (your Facebook domain name).
  12. Don’t Be A Commercial: Radio interviews are discussions, not monologues. You are pushing your product but you’re not the Shamwow guy. If you ever watch talk shows on TV or listened to one on the radio, it’s a conversation about the product, but the guest isn’t saying, “Buy Now, Buy Now.” If they were, you would probably turn to another channel.

Radio interviews can be a great tool to promote yourself, your business, and your product but like any tool, if used improperly, they can backfire. Prepare for the interview. Be friendly…and then simply have a conversation with your host. Chance are, you’ll do wel!l

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3 responses to “Listen Up! Tips for Giving Great Radio Interviews

  1. Pingback: If you ever speak to a reporter… « Broadside

  2. Pingback: Should You Write a Regular Basis? You Bet! | Uncomplicating Management

  3. Pingback: Consulting: Taking The Plunge | Uncomplicating Management

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