How to be Interviewed on the Radio

5 Simple Tips for Sounding Great on the Radio

Having done several radio interviews to promote my second novel The Cigar Maker I thought I would share some things I have learned about being a great interviewee on the radio. Here are five easy tricks to sounding great on the radio and conducting a great interview.

1. Be Prepared

You need to be quick with your words and be ready to talk. Write down a list of talking points and have them in front of you during the interview. The host will probably start by introducing you and giving you a chance to talk about your product. Have a 20 second pitch written down. I usually have about two pages of typed notes that I refer to during the show.

You need to sound credible and if you’re bumbling with your words the listener will not take you seriously.

2. Know Your Audience

It is very important to understand the show’s audience and to speak to things that will interest that group. Talking to other authors on Blog Talk Radio is much different than speaking to seasoned cigar smokers on The Cigar Authority. For one audience, I talked about the writing process, my characters and my experiences in publishing. For the other audience, I talked about the history of the cigar industry, how the struggles of the early 20th century cigar workers are still relevant today, and my favorite cigars.

The host or producer should be able to provide a demographic breakdown of their listeners, so you can adjust your talking points accordingly.

3. Educate and Entertain

The worst thing you can do when answering questions is to give short answers lacking in substance.  Example. The interviewer will likely ask where you live, or where you are from. Take a look at two possible interviews.

#1 Guest Gives Brief Answer

Host: You live in Minneapolis, right?

You: Correct.

#2 Guest Gives a Little More

Host: You live in Minneapolis, right?

You: I live in Minneapolis, where the Minnesota Twins have put together a terrific team and are having a great season in a brand new outdoor ballpark.

Which interview is more interesting?

Since you know your audience, you should be able to provide information that either entertains or educates them. Don’t spend a lot of time talking about yourself, unless you have some interesting anecdotes that relate to your product. Overcome the “so what?” factor and keep giving the listener a reason to take another look at your product.

4. Control Yourself and Your Environment

You do not want to control the interview or the show. Leave that to the host. What you can control is you. Your voice, your environment, your audio posture. Find a quiet room and beware of outside noises like airplanes, lawn mowers, pets and curious children. Sit outside in your car if you must but know that the airwaves can be sensitive and you don’t want a ringing doorbell to distract listeners from your pitch.

Project your voice. Speak a bit louder than you normally do and make sure you sit up straight. Hunching over can muffle and weaken your voice. I actually stand up when I’m being interviewed on the radio, and imagine I’m giving a presentation to an auditorium filled with hundreds of people.

And don’t forget to mention your product! Don’t rely on the host to do this for you. Instead of saying, “my book is about blah blah blah,” the listener who just joined will appreciate it if you say, “my book, The Cigar Maker, is about…”

Do plenty of name dropping – of not only your product but your website.

5. Make a Strategic Follow Up

After the show be sure to follow up and thank the host and/or the producer. But your promotion doesn’t end when you hang up the phone. Offer to provide several free promotional samples of your product. After two of the shows I did, I offered to send 3-5 books that the host could give away to listeners on future shows. If they are giving something of yours away, that means they’ll be talking about it, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. It’s free media and free media that you will not have to manage. Your presence will linger long after the show and the free items will create buzz, which is exactly why you went on the show in the first place!

Mark McGinty is the author of The Cigar Maker and Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy

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4 Responses to How to be Interviewed on the Radio

  1. How to be Interviewed on the Radio « The Boogle…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. I’ve been a guest on more than thirty talk-radio shows and I had a trainer too. The trainer agreed with your tip to stand. He said standing projects the voice and makes it more alive-more interesting, so I wore a headset and stood during those guest spots that ranged from a few minutes to an hour on a 50,000 watt AM station out of Colorado.

    For me, it was easier standing than sitting since I had been a classroom teacher for thirty years and was on my feet most of that time.

    Many good points here. I belong to the California Writer’s Club and I’m going to provide a link to our group of writers whom are learning about marketing their books.

    Oh, the DJ that trained me, said not to use a cell phone because signals can get lost. So I bought unlimited long distance for my wire phone and wore a headset with a long cord attached.

    As you said, it’s good to have talking points written down. I had a 3′ x 4′ corkboard covered with index cards organized and broken down by subject in front of me as I was interviewed. That way, if any question gave me an opportunity to add interesting facts and antidotes, I had them in front of me since I don’t trust my memory.

    Afterwards, if any of the radio talk shows provide podcasts of the show, consider linking to that podcast from your Website or Blog. I have links to two shows on my novel’s Website and people are listening to those shows two years after I was on the air.

    I’m going to add a tip. The day before every scheduled show, I Googled the radio station, the show and the host and learned about whom I was going to be talking to. Several times that paid off when I mentioned something about the host. That way, the interview became more of a relaxed conversation between acquaintances or friends.

    Thanks for this topic.

  3. mmcginty says:

    Thanks Lloyd, for providing some more helpful hints. Especially the one about the cell phone. Avoid them at all costs if you can.

  4. Lauren Carr says:

    Thank you very much for the great suggestions. I’ll be sure to keep a link to this website for when I get radio interviews for It’s Murder My Son.

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