Your marketing has paid off. The phone rings and you are invited for an interview on a popular radio show to discuss your field of industry expertise. After your initial excitement, it is natural that you might start to feel anxious, especially if you have never had an opportunity to speak live ‘on the air’ before.

Be aware that anxiety can quickly magnify into paralysing fear. This usually occurs in direct proportion to the degree of experience and understanding you may or may not have regarding public speaking and the immediacy of the radio interview environment.

Before your anxiety builds, arm yourself with the following tips so you can handle your interview with confidence and panache.

Tip #1
Research the station and the interviewer. Each radio station broadcasts to its own unique demographic of listener. Tune into the station and listen to the specific time slot you will be invited to participate in. How does the station ‘talk’ to its audience? Is it very formal in its style of broadcast or does it have a light-hearted and entertaining approach.  If you don’t have time to listen in to the show beforehand, visit the station’s website. You are likely to find links to recordings of previous interviews that have taken place. Understanding the personality of the talk show host and the type of questioning techniques they like to use will also forearm you with how you can best respond.

Tip #2
Research the audience. While listeners may vary to a slight degree in age and lifestyle, there will be a core audience which will participate in listener call-ins and questions. Understanding the listener’s goals, expectations and assumptions will assist in your delivery of information and how you respond to listener engagement and enquiries. Remember that each and every listener may well be your next customer.

Tip #3
You are not going to have time to cover every point on the topic during the interview. Armed with the knowledge of your audience and the tone of the show, make a bulleted list of the main points you would like to communicate. Stay focussed on these main aspects of the topic throughout the discussion and keep referring to them with examples and personal anecdotes. Make sure you have at least one example that illustrates both a problem and its solution.

Tip #4
Establish your credibility with the audience upfront. Open with a strong story or perspective regarding the topic. Use rhetorical questions to match the type of questions the audience might be thinking. Make sure you cover the top five most frequently asked questions from your own customer base. Refer to the audience regularly and keep your information relevant to how it applies to their world.

Tip #5
Your voice is the only thing the audience has to refer to you as an expert. Keep your pace deliberate and your voice deep. Use pauses for effect and to guide your thought processes, so you don’t fall into the trap of the umhs and ahs. If the line of questioning momentarily stumps you, or you lose your train of thought, transition the conversation back to one of the topic’s main bullet points you jotted down at the beginning. Be forearmed and anticipate what might be tough questions regarding the subject.

Congratulations on securing your first radio interview. Be confident that you have all the information and answers to any awkward questions that may arise and approach your interview with focus and clarity.

Mercédes Westbrook is a journalist and editor with an extensive career in the media publishing arena working with top South African brand marketing and management teams over a variety of publications within their aligned industries.

As owner of www.firehorsemedia.co.za she has adapted her communication skills for the digital platform to include content creation, website design, content marketing, social media management, and public relations. She can be reached on mercedes@firehorsemedia.co.za

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