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Tips for radio interviews

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Professional Psychology: Debating Chamber · Psychology Journals · Psychologists

  • Some people find it useful to do interviews standing up,as it seems to enable them to keep alert.
  • Answer every question with your relevant key messages, and repeat them at every opportunity. Begin each response with the most important points. Keep your answers as brief as possible.
  • Don’t use jargon, and avoid technical terms or concepts that the general public does not know. Try to keep your explanations simple and use analogies to help explain difficult concepts.
  • Don’t rush to respond. Pause a second or two after each question to organize your thoughts.
  • Be aware of repeating words such as “er,” “um” and “you know” and avoid them as much as possible.
  • Keep your answers short as the average broadcast sound bite is only 10 seconds long.
  • When you have covered your message point, stop talking! Don’t feel nervous if no one is talking. Wait for the reporter to ask you the next question, after all it is their job.
  • Speak in the first person, active voice: “I did this,” rather than “This was done.” Be polite, honest and friendly, but keep your tone professional.
  • Remember your key points and move back to them in every single answer. If a reporter asks a question you cannot or will not answer, say something like, “I can’t address that issue here, but I can tell you …” or “That is interesting, but the issue here is …” If you don’t understand the question or if the question is vague, ask for clarification.
  • Never say “No comment”, it sound defensive. If you can’t comment on a point, emphasize what you can say and return to your message points. Do not repeat negative words or inaccurate facts that the reporter uses in a question. Simply correct the inaccuracies and repeat your appropriate message point. Do be willing to say "I don't know" and refer them to a colleague if something is outside your expertise.
  • If you are being interviewed in an official capacity, remember you are representing your organisation. Never say anything that contradicts their policy, unless you have intended this from the outset, or put the institution in a negative light.
  • Maintain eye contact. This will hold a reporter’s attention and make you feel more confident.
  • Be enthusiastic and understandthat you know more about the subject than the reporter does. Take advantage of the opportunity and tell it your way!
  • Assume that everything is “on the record,” even if the recording equipment is not on or the reporter has put away their notebook. If you don’t want to see a comment made public, don’t make it.

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