Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The dos and don't of radio interviews

This is the first guest contribution to the Radiocartoonist blog as part of the Be My Guest blog exchange. 
Emily Cagle is a PR consultant, blogger and copywriter. I thought it appropriate to ask her to blog about presenting yourself on the radio. 
Here are Emily’s dozen Dos and Don’ts. (And I’m glad she omitted number 13: Don’t try and draw cartoons on the radio…)

Getting invited in for a radio interview can give your profile a real boost, but it can also be a nerve-racking experience.  
Generally, the more prepared you are, the better you’ll perform on the day, so here are dozen dos and don’ts to get you started.
1. Do arrive in plenty of time. Whether in the studio or by phone, get ready in plenty of time so you’re not flustered. You’ll probably only be called/called in moments before the interview starts, which is too late to start preparing mentally.
2. Don’t go in blind. It’s not wise to walk into an interview with no idea what to expect. Read up on the programme and if possible, the interviewer to get a better idea of the angle the piece is likely to take and the questions you’re likely to be asked.
3. Do prepare what you want to say. Have some key points in mind — or even on a note card — but don’t expect to be able to recite them word for word. The aim is to sound confident, rather than like you’re reading from a script.
4. Don’t make claims you can’t back up. If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, rather than an evasive “No comment”, it’s far better to give a reason such as, “Unfortunately that information is confidential until X has been completed”.
5. Do speak in short sentences, with brief pauses in between. This will make what you say easier for listeners to digest, and will also improve your chances of sound bites being clipped and used in subsequent news bulletins and the like.
6. Don’t speak too fast. Racing through your words is a sure sign of nerves, so pacing yourself (to just slightly slower than normal ‘conversation speed’) will make you sound less nervous and will reduce the need for ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.
7. Do remain polite at all times. The interviewer or other guests may disagree with you, but it’s never wise to argue, get angry or be rude. Stay polite, reiterate your view, if necessary and remain calm.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask a clarifying a question. Like a job interview, if you don’t understand something, ask.
9. Do have a drink handy in case you feel your mouth or throat getting dry.
10. Don’t go ‘off the record’. For the purposes of an interview, it’s really best to assume there is no such thing, so if you don’t want something in the public domain, don’t say it.
11. Do turn off phones, PDAs and anything that beeps. If being interviewed live over the phone, it’s even more vital to turn your radio off. Left on, it will only create confusion because the radio feed will be a few moments behind what you’re hearing on the phone.
12. Don’t lean into the microphone. If you’re in the studio, take your lead from the interviewer. In most cases, you shouldn’t need to lean forward in your chair at all.


  1. DO answer the question. (Radio interviewers hate silence)

    DON'T answer the question with a simple 'Yes' or 'No' (Radio interververs like to take a little nap between questions, while you answer).

  2. A couple of additions wrt to mentioning websites on-air:

    DON'T make a big thing of giving a web address; leave out the 'www's and just give the as naturally as possible.

    DO have a web address that's easy to spell. My name is hopeless so I registered for the CityTalk radio cartoon work and made the presenter's life much easier.