By Dr. Patty Fitzhugh
Think you’re ready for your first radio interview? It might look easy but taking the time to prepare will make all the difference in your comfort level and success. I host two radio shows, Managing Mid-Life and Morning Coffee, and have done hundreds of interviews. Whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee, you’ll want to follow these easy steps to rock your interview.
Most authors I speak to during my Emerging Authors segment have assembled a media kit. If you have, you’ve probably created a sample question-and-answer sheet to add to your media kit. These Qs and As will give you a great starting point for your media interview. Here are some highpoints that will help offer a guideline for both you and your host:
- Your background, and other interests, ideas, or expertise
- How you came up with the idea for your book
- Some of the more interesting ways you researched or learned of the information you used when writing the book
- How your book connects with local issues and events
- Authors or books that have inspired or influenced you and your work
Research is a critical. I suggest that you read, watch, and listen to interviews with the media outlet or outlets you are most interested in or which are on target for your book. Become familiar with the interview format, the types of questions usually asked, and the length of time for responses. For example, during my Morning Coffee show on Wednesdays, I have only 20 minutes for the interview. The setting is very relaxed. But, during my Sunday night show for Emerging Authors, I have 45 minutes. Your responses need to be succinct and on-point. Find out whether the interview is live or pre-recorded. That gives you more flexibility in the length of your answers.
It’s also a good idea to learn what issues associated with your book are most likely to appeal to the station’s audience. Practice answering those questions. Interview yourself in front of a mirror or webcam or have a friend help you practice. Remember to relax and pause for a deep breath if you need more time to respond with a clear message.
- Help your host
Sometimes, short answers are better because they allow the host to ask another question, take another phone call, or go to a commercial – so keep your answers to 30 seconds or less. But, other times, the host will ask an open-ended question that allows you the flexibility to expound on your answer. You’ll judge the pacing when you research the show you’re being interviewed on, and by asking the host in advance.
- Express yourself
Listeners will “hear it” if you stand, use well-timed gestures, and smile – even on the radio. Try to match the host’s energy. If it’s an early morning call like my Morning Coffee show, get up early and have your coffee or whatever helps you wake up and be energized for the interview. Your passion – or lack of it — will really come across to the audience.
- Find a quiet spot for your interview
Most interviews will be arranged in advance. That’s what I do. If it’s handled over the phone, be sure that you arrange to take the call in a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Also, practice your interviews in this space, too. You’re the expert and the radio host will usually attempt to make you comfortable and at ease.
Take your time and have your talking points in front of you. Make sure to answer questions in a way that presents you and your book in the most positive and interesting way.
- Practice makes perfect
With practice, you’ll relax during interviews and put yourself and your book in the best light. Think carefully before responding to questions and answer with your practiced responses but avoid sounding canned. The audience will pick up on rote answers so just be natural.
If you feel yourself becoming shaken and nervous, take a deep breath. It’s perfectly alright to tell the host or reporter that you don’t know the answer to the question if you don’t. Just respond that you’ll be happy to find out and get back with them. This gives you another reason to be on the show again!
- Be honest and avoid hyperbole
It’s easy to get nervous and misstate information about your book. Be cautious about this because your audience will know if you’re exaggerating or hyping your book. The host and audience appreciates real, in-depth information about you and your book. That’s why you’re on the show. And, if you make a mistake, don’t sweat. Everyone makes mistakes and you’ll improve with experience.
- Don’t depend on the host to make the plug
Make sure to mention your book title and where listeners can get a copy of your book such as your website, local bookstores, etc. and ask them to follow you on social media. Also make sure to talk about an upcoming book signing or author talk.
- Repeat your message during the show
People tend to drop in and out of the interview so do what CNN does best – repeat your message throughout the interview. Your host will probably help with this throughout by saying, “I’m talking with ___________, author of _____________.
- Follow up after the interview
Everyone appreciates a thank-you as a follow-up to the interview via phone or e-mail. This is also a great opportunity to assure that the reporter, editor, or producer who interviewed you has all the information they need to complete their segment. If you have a publicist, this is usually SOP – standard operating practice.
Dr. Patty is a White Plains, NY native who has recently settled in Chatham County with her daughter, Anjela. She also has two sons, James Jr. and Joshua. Dr. Patty holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix and, most recently, she achieved a Doctorate in Ministry from Family Bible University.
Dr. Patty believes in thinking big, and in 2005, she took the challenge to enter a new sphere of influence with the Pastor Pat Radio Show. The show offered a platform for relevant issues affecting the individual as a whole and proved to be a powerful and effective medium for her years of training and life experience.
She next established The Mid-Life Resource Center in 2012 that offers a comprehensive array of resources for people experiencing tremendous challenges and transitions associated with mid-life. She hosts two radio shows, Managing Mid-Life and Morning Coffee with Dr. Patty.
Dr. Patty hosts an Emerging Authors segment where she interviews new authors in her Sunday night programs. For more information about Dr. Patty and to arrange an interview, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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