Originally posted on www.carnsight.com:
This week’s blog is an exciting guest feature to help get you radio ready. Industry expert Jill Misson has taken over the Carnsight blog to deliver some insightful tips for on-air deliveries and on-the-spot speaking straight from the source. She is a freelance writer and broadcaster with over 20 years experience working on radio stations in the UK and around the world. As a presenter and producer she has hosted programmes, podcasts and documentaries for the BBC and BFBS. Without further ado, here’s what Jill has to say on the matter.
If the thought of taking part in a radio interview or podcast fills you with horror, you’re not alone. No-one likes the sound of their own voice and it can be intimidating to imagine everyone listening to every word you have to say. However, it would be a shame to miss out on a good opportunity by simply talking yourself out of it.
With good preparation and some insight into what to expect, you can accept that invitation with confidence. You never know, you may even enjoy the experience!
If you are being asked to talk about a topic on radio or on a podcast, the chances are you know it inside out. Whether it is your industry, your product or your personal story, this is an area you already understand well. If this was Mastermind, it would be your specialist subject and not the quick-fire general knowledge round. Remember that even if you are an expert in your field, listeners may not be, so keep it simple and avoid too much jargon.
One common fear is the prospect of a presenter asking you a question that you don’t know the answer to. There is nothing wrong with admitting that on-air but it is far less likely to happen if you are well-prepared. Although they may be unable or unwilling to provide a list of questions in advance, the producer should always clearly explain the focus of the interview. Make sure you have done your research and practised saying your answers out loud.
It can be tempting to assume that you need to write a script but you are not going on stage and this is not a key-note speech. Radio and podcast interviews are usually much more conversational. You need to respond to the natural flow of the dialogue between you and the presenter rather than reading out a series of statements. People can hear that a mile off.
Once you have decided on the key messages you want to get across, write these down as bullet points to jog your memory. You may want to add any details you are likely to forget such as numbers, dates or names. Keep your notes to one side of paper to place on the desk in front of you to glance at. This stops the sound of rustling which will pick up on the microphone and allows you to maintain eye contact to engage with the presenter.
Listening is one of the best ways to prepare yourself. Tune in to the radio programme or download the podcast ahead of your appearance to get a feel for the content and the tone. With any luck the same presenter will be interviewing you so you’ll start to understand their style and personality. You can get a sense of whether your interview is likely to be informal, intense or intellectual.
You may be able to do an interview from the comfort of your own home or office on the phone or a video call but if you are booked to go into a studio it pays to arrive early. You don’t want to get on-air feeling flustered after running late. It also gives you the chance to stop and listen. There may be an interview with another guest on the same subject that you can refer to later. You may hear the presenter chatting about another story in the news or a TV show so just bear in mind that could pop up in conversation if it has been a talking point.
Feeling nervous can make your mouth dry so it is a good idea to be well hydrated before your interview. Take a bottle of water to sip while you are waiting and if you are at a studio you may even be offered a cup of tea if you’re lucky.
Whether you are on a programme live or recording an interview or podcast, your levels will be checked beforehand. This is so that you can be heard clearly and at a similar volume to the presenter. To do this you may be asked a simple but random question such as: “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Try to relax and smile to sound warm and natural. Take time to breathe and pause to keep yourself calm. There can be a tendency to talk too fast if you are conscious of only having a short time to make your points. If you do stumble, just correct yourself and move on; everyday speech is not word-perfect. All pre-recorded interviews will be given a polish afterwards to edit out major mistakes, extract highlights and reduce the overall length.
In reality, your interview will probably be much quicker and go much better than you expected. It is so easy to imagine the worst when you step out of your comfort zone into unfamiliar territory. The experience will hopefully be far less daunting than you feared.
There’s only one way to find out.
A big thank you to Jill for sharing her wisdom. If you’re after another insightful read, this blog about how to keep your communication so less sales-oriented and more meaningful genuine.
At Carnsight Communications we create strategies and campaigns to showcase our clients’ brilliant work through PR, content and social media. We help them get noticed by the right audience, at the right time. We specialise in creative agency PR.