How to Do a Great Radio Interview – And Be Invited Back Time and Time Again

When running broadcast media training, we tend to focus more on practicing TV interviews than radio interviews. You can argue with some justification that ‘if you can do a TV interview you can do a radio interview’. After all, with TV you have much more to worry about — what you look like, where you look, have I got any awkward mannerisms that will make me look foolish on the air?

Radio is easy isn’t it, you’ve just got to chat?

Errrr . . . . . well . . . . . not quite.

Here are some ways you might play a radio interview differently from its TV counterpart.

A first obvious difference is that if you have prepared properly for your interview, you will have a piece of paper with a few key bullet points you’re ready to get across – backed up where possible with some good examples, anecdotes or statistics. On TV you have to put this away before you go on the air – nobody wants to see you reading from a crib-sheet.

However on radio you can (and should) have this in front of you, as a handy reminder in case your mind goes blank, or you suddenly can’t remember that key figure. Glance down at it before you start, or while the interviewer is talking, in case there is something important you may have missed.

With both radio and TV you need to put energy in your voice so you sound lively not flat and dull – an extra 20% above your standard speaking voice is usually about right. On TV you have got to be careful that this energy does not translate into arms waving about and head bobbing – hugely distracting for the audience – but with radio you don’t have to worry about this. Bob around as much as you like if this helps you to make it lively – just be careful not to get too carried away and clonk the microphone.

On TV they tell you to smile so you don’t look miserable – surely that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about on radio? Far from it. Unless it is a really serious topic, put warmth in your voice by lightening up your expression – as they say, you can ‘smile on the radio’ – and the listeners will really notice.

For obvious reasons, it’s much more common on radio than TV to be interviewed over the telephone. If this opportunity comes up for you, go into a quiet room and close the door behind you – ensure small children, pets etc are kept well away so you are not distracted. Ensure you talk on a landline as mobile signals are of poorer quality and can drop out. In fact, turn your mobile phone off so it does not go off in the middle of the interview. Get a glass of water in case your throat dries.

Be clear about your audience and make sure you pitch the message appropriately – without confusing jargon. Radio is a medium for big-picture broad-brush points, not intricate detail.

If you have something to sell, make sure you do not over-sell. There is nothing more annoying to the listener (and the host) than somebody pushy who goes over the top with product plugs. You may get away with it once, but you won’t get invited back again.

Then, remember to enjoy it! If you are having a good time, the interview is likely to make good listening too.

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Tom Maddocks is one of the UK’s leading media training and presentation coaching experts With years of reporting and presenting experience on BBC TV and radio, he now helps large companies and small businesses improve their media skills. For more articles and his free ESSENTIAL MEDIA TRAINING TOOLKIT visit

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