Are you media ready? With the profusion of podcasts, video blogs, community and internet radio, being media ready is as important as having an answer to the question, “What do you do?”
The biggest disaster is people who “wing it.” There is no excuse for being unprepared for an interview. It’s unlikely you will be pursued by investigative reporters, so you will know about the interview in advance.
Some tips on preparing for a radio or podcast interview:
1. Ask the date, time and location and how long you will be on the air. Don’t assume, ask. Check your calendar before agreeing. Don’t accept a “better date” once you’ve accepted. Just because the podcast is an hour long, doesn’t mean you have an hour of talk time.
2. Ask the name of the program, the content, the name of previous popular guests. You’ll be more comfortable being on a program that you have expertise on. It might sound interesting to be on a hot political program, but if the host thinks interviewing means firing non-stop questions and accusations about your point of view, you have a lot more preparing to do.
3. Two questions that precede any interview: Who is your audience? What’s the objective? You’ll need to gear your comments to the popular culture reference of the audience–I once spoke about the family gathering around the kitchen table for activities and the host replied, “I never ate at the kitchen table. Breakfast was in the car on the way to school, and dinner came from the drive-through on the way to soccer.” He lost interest in my field of expertise because I didn’t sound credible to his demographic.
You need to know the objective, because everything you say needs to be geared to meeting the objective. Are you persuading, being the local expert? Is your purpose to rally around a cause? Contribute money? Have people show up somewhere? Unless you know the purpose, you don’t know what to say.
4. Ask for a list of questions. It’s fine to do that. Again, there are few investigative reporters left. Most likely, you are being asked because you have information. If the host says, “We’ll just talk,” then it’s your job to create a list of questions you want to be asked.
5. Prepare a list of points you want to make. Put them in the order of most important to least important. Make the points interesting to your audience. “Writing in a journal is fun,” is not nearly as interesting to college-age listeners as “Journals aren’t just on paper anymore. You can keep a video journal on your computer, too.”A well-written point keeps you on topic and makes a great sound bite.
6. Have some information to back up what you are saying. Your opinion is great, but having several studies that prove your point is better. Tell the host they study is posted on your site, offer to send the information to the host.
7. Gear your style to the objective. Are you asking for agreement or contributions? Be vivid, inject stories, use emotions. You don’t need to break into tears or yell. Logic is on the left side of the brain, but judgement is on the right, along with emotion. Facts are necessary, but if you don’t bring the audience from understanding what you are saying to agreeing with you, you missed the objective.
Preparing for a show actually calms you down and makes you a better presenter. A good presenter becomes a popular guest, and that’s a plus, too.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and trainer, helping people speak in public and write well.