With the goal of every on-air host to keep their listeners engaged, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through conducting engaging radio interviews.
On-air interviews should prompt interesting conversations and/or thought-provoking discussions regardless of the interview topics including informational, personal, or investigative interviews. Below, please find a few helpful tips on how to create a stellar interview:
1 Select Your Guests Carefully – Whilst interviewees are there to educate and in some instances, be the expert in the discussion matter, they are also meant to keep the audience engaged. Radio listeners are spoiled with choice, so if an interview is boring or the interviewee is not articulate enough, listeners are likely to switch the station. Radio interviews should be memorable, so ensure that when you select your guests, they have the right personality and charisma to keep your listeners engaged – humor is always a bonus. We suggest that if a guest has done interviews before, listen to past recordings to learn of the interviewee’s flair.
2 Always Be Prepared – As an on-air radio host, one of the most important tips we can give you is to be prepared. Research information about your guest such as age, education, family, career, hobbies, and more, as well as the topic you will be discussing at great length to ensure you can add value and unforeseen improvisations during the interview. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have a pre-made set of questions related to the topic that will help you feel more in control of the interview.
3 Pre-Interview the Guest – For live radio interviews, it’s important to give the interviewee a heads up on the format of the interview before the actual broadcast. This will enable your guest to prepare adequately for the interview, making it easy for the radio interview to go smoothly. Pre-interviews are also an opportunity to get to know the interviewee better, which puts them at ease and comfortable when you speak to them on the live radio broadcast.
4 Pre-Test Your Equipment – Whether you are conducting the interview in the studio or over the phone, you should ensure that your equipment is working properly ahead of time. Encourage your guest to use a quality headset if the interview will be conducted over the phone as headsets help block out background noises. If the guest is in the studio, ensure that they sit close to the mic, (5-6 inches) away, so that their voice is audible to your listeners.
5 How You Start the Interview is Key – As the interviewer, you should naturally introduce the guest into the interview. You could start by introducing the interviewer by giving a bit of background information about them, you could consider giving a show-stopping introduction, talk about your guest’s achievements, and look ahead to their ambitions with words of encouragement along the way. This gives the guest a few minutes to gain their composure before you start engaging with them in a conversation. When you eventually switch over to the guest, you could also start with something informal, like the weather, and then switch to basic questions before you delve into more thought-provoking issues. Any of these tactics are simple ways to ease the nerves of your guest for a smooth interview.
6 Be a Good Listener- Another important tip is to make the interview a conversation, but at the same time, ensure that you listen more as the interviewer. What the guest speaker says should guide your follow-up questions. It’s not always that you will be able to have all details about the topic at hand, so listening to the interviewee gives you a better opportunity to probe more. This way, the interview flows more natural and less structured, making it more engaging and exciting.
7 Control the Interview – As the interviewer, it’s your responsibility to control the direction of the interview. Each interview has a purpose, and your goal is to steer the conversation to achieve the purpose for the interview. Maintaining control of the interview entails learning how to manage different personalities, ensuring that the interview remains respectful to the listeners and the guest, controlling phone-ins to ensure that the guest is protected from any level of abuse from participants, keeping the energy but without losing the main objective of the interview, asking the right questions tactfully that your audience want to know, and keeping the interview short or within the specified allocated slot of your radio programming. Additionally, keeping your guest(s) focus on the topic at hand is of utmost importance..
8 Pre-Record the Interview – In instances where the interviewer struggles to articulate their points clearly, pre-recording an interview might be the best format as it allows you to edit the grey areas. Note that the edited version should, however, be a fair and balanced representation of the guest’s views.