I received a call from radio host in Portland. She was livid. She said, “Your guest was asleep when I called her for the show this morning. Then, she answered questions like she didn’t know the topic of her own book!” After that it was something like, “You need to get your clients better prepared for interviews.” After her brief tirade I said, “Sandy, I didn’t schedule anyone for your show today.” Then, she apologized for calling the wrong publicist.
Radio and television interviews take energy, preparation, and being at your best. There is an entertainment element to the process though we rarely want to admit this because it doesn’t sound very spiritual. The audience wants to know you are as passionate about your book or topic as you expect them to be. In my experience, ill-prepared authors with no energy make some of the worst guests.
So what exactly do radio hosts want in a guest? Here are six things every host is looking for from a guest.
- A guest who is enthusiastic. If you aren’t excited about your book or topic, no one else will be. This doesn’t mean you should be hyperactive or out-of- control. It does mean that you must communicate in a way that motivates others to want to know more about it.
- A guest who is prepared. If you are an author, chances are that you wrote your book a year or more ago and may not remember everything you said. Read your book before you start to do media interviews. Flag the most important points you want to make during each interview. I suggest having a few key points for every interview.
- A guest who connects with the audience. How do you connect? By being relevant, upbeat, knowledgeable, and gracious. Find a “felt need” – something people can relate to—and you will make this vital connection. Jesus was a master communicator and He used stories to capture His audience and keep their attention.
- A guest who is grateful. An interview is free air time. You are on because someone believes your topic is worth discussing. Be grateful. Express it afterward. Send a note. Make a follow up call.
- A guest who engages in conversation. Avoid one word or single sentence answers. You are on a show for a reason; to share what you know. No matter how big or how small the audience is, recognize that you are communicating to just one person at a time.
- A guest who is punctual. If a host is doing a live show, they need to know you will be ready when they call on you. If you are even two minutes late, they may move on.
Technology is faster moving and more ubiquitous than at any time in history. Clever radio and television hosts recognize this. They know how vital it is to keep high-value product (interviews) moving if they expect to retain their audience. If you are invited on a show, recognize these essential ingredients. If you are lucky, you will be invited back again.