Quick Tips

  • Talk on landlines not mobiles
  • Opt for pre-recorded rather than live
  • Start again if you stumble or lose your way
  • Use descriptive language
  • Avoid jargon. Talk as you would to family.
  • Smile - it makes you sound more confident.


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What to ask

The first thing to establish is whether the interview will be live or recorded.  If you're nervous, ask for a recorded interview. You can then correct any major mistakes.

Most radio interviews are recorded for news bulletins on major networks like Radio New Zealand, Radio Live and NewsTalk ZB.  You'll be contacted by a reporter who will typically record the interview directly to their computers, ready for editing.

Before you start, ask the reporter for an overview of the likely questions. If they raise questions you are not able - or not authorised - to discuss, let them know. It's best to set your guidelines before the interview.

Don't assume the reporter is well informed. Radio journalists can cover several stories in an hour. They often rely on your guidance for news angles and key points.

If you're contacted by a news programme like Morning Report, Nine to Noon, Mike Hosking Breakfast etc, similar questions apply.  Ask: when do you need me?  How long will the interview run? Will I be interviewed alone or with others? Is the interview live or recorded?

What they need from you...

A 20 second answer.  That's more than enough for a typical radio interview.  You can comfortably deliver 6 or 7 sentences in 20 seconds.  So keep it brief and simple.  If the presenter or reporter needs more detail, they will ask.  It's their role to keep the conversation flowing and interesting.

Radio reporters can be the most persistent when it comes to demanding immediate interviews.  They face tight deadlines, regular bulletins and a limited supply of news.  This is their problem, not yours. But you should still try to cooperate. It is only natural they will want to be first to break or update a story.  And radio reaches a large audience.

Descriptive language is essential.  You need to paint a picture for listeners.  They can't see your company's 'best practise' or 'critical path'.  The best approach is to be conversational.  Abandon the buzz words and mission statements.  Just talk the way you would to a neighbour who has little or no understanding of your role or expertise.

A final reminder:  don't be pressured into comment until you have gathered the facts.  Delay any unexpected interview for at least 20 minutes.  Use this time to check the details and consult with colleagues or support staff.

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