After months of hard work and getting a press release together you finally get a call for an interview on a prime-time slot. You have lots to say, but suddenly the nerves creep in, the words escape you and you have no idea where to start.
By Emilee Jennings
The first person I ever interviewed for radio was MEP Marian Harkin. She was formerly my maths teacher when I was in secondary school and I had always admired how she went after her dreams and became an Independent MEP, no easy task.
In 2009, while studying my Journalism Masters in Galway I interviewed her for Flirt FM, NUIG’s student radio station. She was calm, had all her talking points ready and was the height of professionalism. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. It was my first radio interview and the fact that I had idolised her for many years didn’t help. Needless to say that was not my best interview. But I did eventually overcome those nerves and so can you.
Since then I have interviewed many people — from the members of Westlife to former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon — on both radio and on camera. I’ve learned that the most important thing is to be prepared. And that goes for those being interviewed too. To ready yourself for that big interview I’ve prepared a list of dos and don’ts, so that you can come out the other side proud of how well you portrayed yourself and your company.
Don’t prepare answers
If you prepare set answers you will sound like a robot rhyming them off and you could easily get caught off guard if the interviewer goes in a different direction.
Do prepare talking points
It’s important to know everything about your business and the issue you will speak about. If you prepare well you will remain calm, cool and collected throughout the interview no matter what direction it takes.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Ask questions in advance of the interview. You should have a contact point that can answer simple questions like: Will this interview be live? How long will it be? Is it a one-on-one? Will it be panel based? If it is panel based, you should find out what the topic is and become well versed in the area and how it relates to you, so that your voice will stand out as one of authority.
Do know your audience
Every station, whether it be radio, TV or online, has a different target audience and different interview style. The tone of interview is going to depend on the audience, so it’s very important to know who the target is. This will also help you customise your answers to gain their interest.
Don’t give one-word answers
This is your chance to get your points across and familiarise people with you and your company. Be prepared to answer questions in full, always expand on what you mean and be ready to continue the conversation until the interviewer cuts in, but make sure not to ramble. Your response should be clear and easily digestible for those listening at home.
Do prepare a closing statement
If time is going well you may have the chance to add a line before the interview finishes. It’s a good idea to prepare this thought process so that you are ready to take advantage of any extra air time you might get.
Don’t fret over small mistakes
Even the most experienced radio and TV hosts make mistakes live on air. The best thing that you can do is carry on. If you say something incorrect, simply correct yourself and move on. If it’s a minor stumble or unimportant mistake just keep going. Chances are you will be the only person who notices the mistake.
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