Top 10 Tips For Radio Interviews

Here are my Top 10 Tips for the best Radio Interview (relevant for TV too)

1. CONTEXT

When you get the call from the producer or researcher, find out whether the interview is live or pre-recorded. Which programme it’s going out on and when? What’s the context for the interview eg. news item, part of a wider discussion. Are you the sole interviewee? And who’s doing the interview – the presenter or someone else from the production team?

2. GIVE YOURSELF 15 MINUTES

Unless you are 100% certain that this is right for you, ask the producer if you can get back to them in 15 minutes: long enough for you to consider the pros & cons but short enough for the hard pressed producer to wait for you to get back to them.

3. AM I THE BEST PERSON FOR THIS INTERVIEW?

Will this help you further your own work or personal objectives? If you know someone who you think would actually do a better job, call the producer back, suggest your colleague AND explain why. i) you increase your credibility with the programme and ii) you can be sure they will come back to you in the future with further requests.

4. WHERE, WHEN, HOW LONG?

If you DO decide to do the interview, find out when and where the interview will take place. Do they want you to go into a studio? If so, is it live in the main studio with the presenter or is it from a remote studio, where you’ll be doing it “down the line”. And how long will the item run for?

5. WHO’S THE CONTACT ON THE DAY?

Check whether the producer you’re talking to will be working on the day you’re doing the interview. Make a note of ALL relevant phone numbers, particularly mobiles.

6. WHAT ARE YOUR TWO KEY POINTS?

The interviewer will have their own “angle” on the story but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you as well. Work out ahead of the interview, the 2 or 3 key points that you’d really like to make. This may include something that hasn’t yet been covered in relation to the story but YOU think is really important.

7. ON THE DAY

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the studio. There’s nothing worse than being more focused on where you’re going to park, than on what you want to say & how you’re going to say it. Turn off your phone or put it into airplane mode before you go into the studio. Particularly if it’s live, check again how much time has been allocated to it.

8. HEADPHONES OR NO HEADPHONES?

if you’re the sole interviewee, don’t bother putting the headphones on. Unless you’re used to them, they’re simply a distraction from what you want to say. Make yourself comfortable and sit upright in the chair with your back supported – that way you can breathe better and it helps with nerves.

9. WHAT’S THE 1ST QUESTION?

If it’s a news programme, there’s even less time between items but once you’re seated in the studio, try to check with the presenter what their first question is. That will give you an idea of what direction they’re taking.

10. THE INTERVIEW

By all means have your key points noted but only use them as reference. Do NOT read from them. Remember this is a “conversation” and, if you’re looking down, your voice will sound flat. You want to sound lively and “engaged”. And if you find the interview’s going in the wrong direction, reply with something like, “Before I answer that question, there’s a key thing here which I think has been overlooked” and proceed to make the points that YOU want to get across.

Liz Leonard