This blog post is for people who are behind the microphone for radio, internet radio, blog-talk radio, podcasts and webinars. When I say “behind the microphone,” I mean on either side–as interviewer or as the person being interviewed. This is different from being media ready, although it’s close.
Some tips for the person being interviewed:
1. Do NOT “wing it”. Write down your main points. If you feel nervous, write a script. Then practice it at least three times–yes, three times. The first time, you’ll hear words that are hard to say. The second time, you’ll hear context that doesn’t work. And the third time, you’ll feel confident–don’t give up any of those.
2. Talk to the host–in person–ahead of time. You want to feel comfortable with the person asking questions. If that’s impossible, exchange emails. Listen to another show, read their blog. Do not go on the air not knowing the show’s target audience and the host’s style.
3. Have a list of questions you know the answers to and submit those to the host. If the host hasn’t read your book. blog, or website, they’ll be asking you good questions that you know the answers to. I was once asked, “What were you thinking about when you wrote [random sentence from my book.] ?” It took me a few seconds to recover and give an intelligent answer.
4. Double-check your calendar. Make sure you know the right time to call in. Check again. Set a timer or alarm to keep you on track 15 minutes before starting time.
5. Have a copy of your book next to you for reference during the interview. Even if you’ve memorized it.
6. Do not drink carbonated beverages for an hour before the interview. Have a glass of water close by–your throat will feel dry.
7. Have the interviewer’s name on an index card next to you. Thank them by name at the beginning and end of the interview.
8. Send the interviewer a thank-you email, naming something that went well. Don’t apologize for a flub in the email, you can do that on the phone later.
If you are running the interview:
1. Stop trouble before it starts. Send the person you are interviewing (called ‘the author’ from now on) all the information needed well before the show. Two weeks is a good time. Check in with them to make sure they understand the instructions.
2. Do not give the author impossible tasks. Here are instructions I’ve been given that I could not meet:
- Use a landline (haven’t had one in five years).
- Be in a soundproof room. (Where do you live that you have one–or need one?)
- Kennel your pets and have a baby sitter for your kids. (I understand the intent, but just tell me what you need, not how to do it.)
- Send me a free book. (Most authors pay for their own books. Be kind and accept a PDF).
2. Do not assume the author knows your style or is a big fan your show.
3. If you are doing a webinar, schedule a practice session.Everyone will
be happier and more professional for it.
4. Never, ever make fun of an author’s name. They’ve heard it all. Seriously.
5. Read the book, or at least two chapters so you can ask good questions. Or ask the author for speaking points. Then use them. Do not read a random quote from the book and ask the author what they were thinking when they wrote it. The author doesn’t remember.
6. Refer to the book in context during the interview. The author doesn’t have the book memorized, so saying, “Tell me more about that exercise on page 86” is not likely to get you a brilliant answer. At best, you will hear pages rustling. At worst, you will hear what a blank stare sounds like.
7. Thank the author. You both need each other.
Interviews are a wonderful way to broadcast information about your book. Not every author should be on every show. Choose wisely. Practice, prepare and enjoy each interview!
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who is promoting her book, Raw Art Journaling. The book is available on her website at a discount and free shipping (in the U.S.) for a limited time. She’s enjoying almost all interviews, except for the person who made fun of her name. And for the record, yes, she is Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Sure.