Fifteen Tips for Giving Great Radio Interviews

antique_radioBesides spreading the word about your book, what’s the best thing about landing a radio interview? The answer is: you can conduct the interview wearing your pajamas! But there’s a catch. You can’t sound like you’re wearing your pajamas. That’s right. Even though you’re talking on the phone to the reporter and no one can see you, you still have to communicate a professional image. Otherwise, the radio producers might bump you from the show and they definitely won’t call you back for future stories.

So how can you ensure that you make the right impression, and perhaps more important, guarantee that you’re called back for more interviews? You can use the following fifteen tips for giving great radio interviews:

  1. Allow yourself private time prior to the interview. Use this time to relax and focus. Imagine that you are speaking with the interviewer face to face. Rehearse the points you want to make and remember that you can never be too prepared.
  2. Seek a quiet spot for the interview. If you are speaking from home, close yourself off in a room with few distractions. Turn off your computer, TV, or radio, and clear your desk so nothing can take your mind off the conversation.
  3. Write your main points before the call begins. Do not read scripted responses from a pre-printed sheet, because reporters can tell when something is being read to them versus when you’re giving honest answers. But do prepare a note card with three to five topics you would like to touch upon during the interview. That way you won’t struggle with an answer during the interview.
  4. Show that you care about the reporter and their story. Be helpful and responsive to their requests. Ask the interviewer what you can do to make his or her job easier. Then really listen to their answer and be an eager, accessible source of information.
  5. Stand while giving the interview. Even though you’re talking on the phone, act as if you were giving a live presentation and stand tall. Standing will raise your energy level and you will be more alert than if you sere sitting. Radio interviewers love energy and can really pick up on your mood.
  6. Smile, and answer honestly and sincerely. People can hear your smile over the phone and a reporter will feel more comfortable after hearing the joy in your voice. Also, the sound of smiling builds a rapport with interviewers. If they feel they can trust you, they will think of you first for their next interview.
  7. Put energy and spunk into your voice. No one wants to listen to a monotonous drone on the radio, and the reporters and producers know this. So even before the interview, assure the radio reporters that you’ll be pleasant to the listeners’ ears by putting energy into your voice. This could make the difference between a mundane interview and a great conversation.
  8. Have backup information handy. Reporters will inevitably ask you one question you don’t want to or can’t answer (this is another place your note card comes in handy). In case you are unable to respond, you can say, “That brings up an interesting point…” then go on to one of your prepared statements. Or, offer to find out the answer to the questions and get back to them as soon as possible.
  9. Be concise. The average answer to a given question is only nine seconds long. If you cannot convey your message in this short amount of time, your answer will not be used. So be careful not to ramble and stick to the facts. Don’t overload the reporter with unnecessary information that is not directly related to the story.
  10. Be forthright. Answer the reporter’s question accurately and thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to give away too much information. Many new authors fear that they might give too much and then no one will buy their book. But it’s impossible to spoil an entire book in a five minute radio interview, and the radio listeners will actually want more when you give them a little. So answer the questions and don’t say, “You’ll find the answer to that on page 116 of my book.”
  11. Use the word “you” often. The word “you” draws the listeners in and helps them relate to what you’re saying. And always give the listeners a reason to pay attention by adding benefit statements to the facts in your presentation.
  12. Let the reporter lead the conversation. The reporter most likely has an agenda for the story’s development already in mind, so don’t attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the reporter does not want to cover.
  13. Incorporate personal experiences into your responses. Audiences love to hear firsthand accounts of experiences relating to the topic. It helps them feel as if they know you personally. But make sure you stay on topic and don’t get distracted with your story.
  14. Be prepared to back up your claims. Reporters want factual information. So instead of saying, “The majority of people do this…” say, “Eighty-five percent of my clients do this…” And don’t say, “I think” or “maybe.” Speak with authority and confidence.
  15. Find future stories. After the interview, thank the reporter and ask what other stories they’re covering. Even if their other stories don’t directly pertain to your book, explain how you can be beneficial to what they are investigating.

Interviews in the Future
Although radio interviews usually only entail a ten minute phone call, you still need to take your time and prepare for it beforehand. You don’t have to shower and shave, but you do need to have energy and excitement in your voice. During the call, you want to put your best foot forward with clear, honest, and accurate responses. And when you’re finished, don’t forget to thank the reporter and offer to help on other stories.

When you use these fifteen tips for giving great radio interviews, you’ll communicate a professional, expert image to the reporter and the audience for you and your book.

Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers and authors. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good you publicity and how to use it to really boost your bookings or book sales. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at