When most people think of PR interviews, newspapers and TV jump to mind. Audio interviews, conducted by radio stations and podcasters, are often an afterthought.
However, these interviews can be valuable for two big reasons. First, radio remains quite popular, boasting large, engaged audiences. Podcasts, too, can have sizable followings in their subject areas. Second, audio interviews are often made available as MP3 downloads, which means you can place them on your website, share them on social media and blogs, and email links to your customers and prospects.
With such value to be had from audio interviews, it makes sense to do them right. Here are some tips for pulling off great audio interviews.
7 Tips for Great Audio Interviews
- Maximize sound quality. I know this sounds like the station or podcaster’s job, but there are lots of things you can do to maximize the audio quality of your own interviews. Make sure you’re in a quiet room, windows and doors shut and mobile phone off. If you’re doing a telephone interview, use the corded handset to your phone, not a speakerphone and not a wireless handset. Do not use a mobile phone for your interview. If you are doing a Skype interview, shut down all unnecessary programs on your computer. The better the sound quality, the better you’ll come across.
- Be prepared. Just because your interview is going to be a conversation doesn’t mean you can do it off the cuff. You should prepare for an audio interview as thoroughly as you would for a newspaper or TV interview. The good news is since it’s audio, you can have your notes right in front of you and nobody will know. So, create good talking points and practice a few times before the interview. You can even get on the phone and rehearse with a colleague or your publicist until you feel ready.
- Don’t be too prepared. You may think I’m crazy but hear me out. Lots of people try to script out their audio interviews — and this usually fails badly. It’s hard to read from a script and make it sound like a conversation. And if the host throws in a question you’re not expecting, you can get flustered. It’s better to use talking points, at mentioned above, so you can just scan the bullet points to keep you on track. If you’re familiar with the material from your preparation, you should be able to stay on message just fine.
- Keep it steady. This idea is terribly important. You want to keep a steady, fairly slow, relaxed vocal pace as you go through your interview. When people are nervous they tend to speak far too quickly. When listeners hear someone speaking too quickly, they assume the person is nervous, which is always a negative. This is something to work on when you practice. Keep your pace relaxed. Don’t rush to get done. Sound like you’re enjoying the interview and have all the time in the world. This will give your interview a confident feel that will help win over listeners.
- Refer back to previous points. This speaks to a big difference between audio interviews and print. Audio is 100% linear. There’s no looking back at the prior paragraph if the listener loses his or her place. So, if you’re going to make a point that relates to something you said 5 minutes earlier, understand that the listener may not recall your reference. Better to refer back to the previous point explicitly. For example: “You’ll recall at the beginning of the interview I mentioned the sky is blue. Since our product evokes the sense of flight, we’ve chosen a blue color palette for our latest generation…”
- Counting always helps. I’m sure you’ve heard this construction before. “There are three points I want to make about our newest product. One…” This approach is perfect for audio interviews. It helps listeners keep track of what you’re telling them and it gives them a sense for how long this part of the conversation will run. Remember, since audio is linear, anything that will help listeners follow along is of great value. Make sure, however, that if you say you’re going to make four points, you don’t stop at three without some explanation. Otherwise, you’ll create confusion and undo your good work.
- Use examples. This is a good idea with any interview, but it is particularly useful with audio. When you use examples in describing a situation, product or service, you are bringing an idea to life, giving it flesh and blood. Audio is a very intimate media format to begin with — after all, you are hearing real voices and picking up real emotion — so examples are particularly powerful. For example: “Our new product is very popular with young adults. There’s a great story about one college student in Maryland who bought it for three of his friends and…”
Audio interviews are much easier than you think. As a podcaster, I’ve conducted many, many interviews and coached lots of folks through them. Everyone has the capacity to pull off a great audio interview. Just follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to becoming an audio star.