How to Do a Radio Interview
With the publication of my three books, I’ve had to quite a few radio interviews, mostly on Christian radio. I’ve also done some TV interviews as well, but mainly I do radio, because it enables me to do it from home or office and is a good way to promote the message of my books.
I’m not an expert and I still have a long ways to go as a communicator, but along the way I’ve picked up a few tips. I thought I’d share them with you:
- Try to use a landline. Cell phones have a come along way, but they are still less reliable than landlines. Producers and hosts prefer landlines, because they produce better audio. Plus there is less a chance that they will cut off in the middle. I once had a great radio interview lined up, one that I’d worked hard to get, only to have it cut off in the middle. I was able to come back on and do the interview, but it was embarrassing. (Oh, and online phones like Magic Jack don’t count!)
- If you have to use your cell phone . . . I schedule 90% of my interviews for when I’m in the office here at church and can use the landline. But sometimes I’m scheduled to do it when I’m on an off-day at home. Because we don’t have a landline at home, I’m forced to use my iPhone. I’ve learned a few tricks to making the iPhone sound fairly good. First, I disable the wifi search and the bluetooth capability. Sometimes these tools interfere with the phone’s reception. I also make sure I’m in a good cell area in our home (for me, it’s upstairs in our master bedroom).
- Make sure you’re in a quiet room. For me this is pretty easy, because my office is at church and there is typically few if any people here. I usually close my door, however and put the shade down so people know not to disturb me. At home, I go in our master bedroom and lock the door and my wife keeps the kids from disturbing. There have been a few times that I’m home and one of my kids has tried to get in. This is where I master the angry Dad look that lets them know not to bother me!
- Be mentally ready. Take a few deep breaths before you start, sit in a comfortable place, drink your favorite beverage, then pray and be ready to minister to the needs of the audience you are about to serve. It’s so important not to be rushed, distracted, or otherwise taken away from task at hand.
- Have your talking points ready, but be flexible in your answers. It’s good to know what you’re going to say about your book, but it’s also important to be flexible and draw on the wisdom from God’s Word that you’ve internalized in you. I have found it helpful to answer the hosts questions with answers that eventually lead to the content of your book. And the more you do radio, the easier this gets.
- Give short, sound-byte-answers. Remember hosts have segments, time to fill. They have to take breaks. They also have to continue to educate their audience as to who you are and what this show is about. So you need to have a “clock in your head.” If you’re answers are longwinded, you make it tougher for the host. Also, you need to “land the plane” with every answer in that as you are in the middle of sharing, think of how you will draw this answer to a close. Then when you finish your answer, pause, so you can let the host know you are finished and he/she can jump in.
- Don’t interrupt. This is a hard one for me. I’m a serial interrupter in conversation, something God is slowly working out of me. It’s important to let a host finish her statement. You will know it’s your turn when he/she inflects her voice for a question and then pauses.
- Give them something to chew on. When it’s your turn to speak, speak. Don’t wait too long. Have some content to share. When a book of mine is first being released, I usually have it in front of me and I have some sheets with info. But as a book campaign progresses, I find this stuff becomes internalized and I don’t need that. But it’s always better to have content in front of you, to jog your thoughts so you can give the audience something. It’s also helpful to be energized. I find that walking around and moving my hands like I’m speaking gives me energy. I think that transfers to the audience.
- Don’t make it about you, but about the message God has given you. I listen to quite a bit of Christian radio. I find that the interviews that prompt me to buy books are not the ones with the author constantly talking about himself and his book and his wildly successful ministry. They are the interviews where the author pours himself out and offers solid, biblical advice. I have bought a number of books after being in my car and thinking, Wow, this is really good. I need this. I know people who need this. If God has given you a message, share that message and the results, the sales, will take care of themselves.
- Don’t expect one interview to be the magic bullet. Unless you’re on Oprah, rarely will a media appearance automatically boost your Amazon rankings. But that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. You have to see each media appearance, each blog review/interview, each speech as adding one more plank to your platform. And each is an opportunity for ministry. This relieves the pressure of having to sell yourself on each interview and having to hit a home run with each appearance. Just be faithful in the opportunities God calls you to and let Him manage the results. He’s pretty good at that.
- Be gracious and appreciative. It’s an honor to be featured on any media platform. Producers chose you over hundreds, maybe thousands of options. So be grateful for the appearance. Seek to serve the people at the radio station. And always say, “thank-you” and perhaps send a hand-written note or at least a nice email of thanks.