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5 Professional Secrets to Make Your Radio Interview a Classic

Listen to the host for cues as to how he addresses his audience. He may tell you about the weather, mention what has happened in their town, allude to a recent guest or refer to a past radio show.

1. Personalize your presentation.

When you link your information to what is personal and relevant to your audience they will connect with you as one of them. While this is a more subtle way to relate to your host and audience, it often makes the difference between having people feel like you understand them or not.

2. Create vivid word pictures using all the senses.

The Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley and Chinese scholar Orville Schell told this resonant story on the radio. *In 1926 when a protest against Japan reached the gate of Heavenly Peace the War Lord then in power fired in the crowd killing 50 people, wounding 100 and the square was bathed in blood. China’s most famous writer Lu Hsun said a striking line: ‘Lies written in ink will never disguise truth written in blood.*

In less than 25 seconds Schell has given you a picture of a political climate visually, auditorally and emotionally.

3. Project your image through your voice.

*On the radio one is just a voice, the idea of a human presence. In life I am such a specific person compared to that,* says Ira Glass, the host of the award winning National Public Radio Show, *This American Life.*

You get the weird random comments like I met this woman who was absolutely convinced that I was a short, bald, heavyset, Jewish man like with a cigar in his fifties. Which I am not. Then you think, ‘What am I projecting that says bald, short….’ People will often forgive you and your voice if you tell them stories full of insight, meaning and pleasure. They’ll associate those good feelings with you.

4. Tell stories, stories, stories.

People remember stories. If there is one thing and one thing only you learn from being on radio it is to tell stories.

5. Let your tone do the telling.

Tone tells how you feel about who you are-whether you are defensive, comfortable, nervous, or snotty. The other day I became mesmerized listening to a radio interview with actor John Cusack. He was all lazy, rumpled bedcovers and long gazes. There was something in his voice that let me know he was, as the French say, *Bien dans sa peau — comfortable in his own skin.

What was it? He was both thoughtful and forthcoming. He took his own time and didn’t try to mirror or match his interviewer’s style or pacing in any way. Many presentation coaches recommend you mirror your interviewer in order to gain rapport, but to a degree, I disagree. Keep your own rhythm. You might need to speed it up a tad because of the fast pace of the medium, but only speed it to your top speed. Anything more throws you off kilter.

Your audience is looking for a good customer service attitude when listening to you on the radio. Since tone reflects your internal response, when you feel yourself tensing up, one way to deal with defensiveness is to pause, take a breath, and release on the feeling in that moment — consciously let it go before you respond.

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