As a radio presenter sitting in a studio I can watch a song count down on the screen in front of me, poised to start talking as the music fades. Timings are absolutely crucial as every hour of a show has a running order that has been planned in advance by producers who piece together the content of the programme like a jigsaw. Certain features have to happen at specific times, like traffic reports or news bulletins, so it is important to always keep an eye on the clock.
It helps to understand that time pressure when you are taking part in a radio interview as a guest. The allotted time slot for your conversation may only be fairly brief but you can still achieve a great deal and make the experience worthwhile.
When someone gets in touch out of the blue to arrange a meeting, it is usual practice to both consult your diaries and come to a mutual agreement based on your availability. However, if you get the opportunity to appear on a radio show, it may not be quite as flexible. Sometimes a producer will be forward planning for the following week or month but more often they are working to a tight deadline towards the next day’s programme. For breaking news and current affairs you can even be asked to appear within hours to give a more immediate reaction or comment.
Although it can be daunting to suddenly be expected to speak at short notice, on the plus side there is less time for anxiety to build in anticipation. Talk to the producer to find out the focus of the interview and ask how long it is likely to be for. Prepare yourself by deciding on the key messages you are keen to get across and jot them down as bullet points to glance at to jog your memory. It is always a good idea to have a trial run and even if you haven’t got someone to play the part of the interviewer, you should practise saying your answers out loud. Try challenging yourself to get to the point quickly. You could set a timer to get a better idea of how long your answer is then come up with a more concise explanation.
Over and out
After working up to your big moment it may feel disappointing when the whole thing is finished after five minutes. The length of time will depend on the format of the programme but don’t feel you have been cut off because you were boring, it is simply time to move on to the next item on the agenda. If your discussion was about an issue in the news it may also be clipped so that a short soundbite can be included later in the newsreader’s bulletins.
Your radio debut is now out of the way so next time you are asked to appear on air you will feel more confident and able to accept knowing what to expect. By maintaining a positive rapport with the producers and presenter they are more likely to invite you back for a repeat