How to Have a Successful Book Interview on TV or Radio

You’ve finally landed an interview on that highly rated radio or TV show you’ve been dreaming about being a guest on. This is your big chance to promote your book! But now, you’re worried that you'll blow the opportunity by doing a bad interview.

Here is some advice for how to have a successful interview:

Think about the main points you want to make during your interview and about how to convey them clearly and concisely. Being succinct is especially important if your interview will last just a few minutes, which is often the case on TV.

Make your interview more interesting to your audience by sharing interesting anecdotes or statistics that relate to the subject of your book. This advice is most relevant if you are the author of a nonfiction book.

Try to anticipate the questions you will be asked during your interview and spend time thinking about how to respond to them. This is especially important if your book addresses a controversial or sensitive subject. Having a good sense of what you will say if you are asked any difficult or awkward questions will help you avoid hemming and hawing, pausing too long, or saying something you might regret later. By the way, feel free to offer the producer of the show you will be a guest on sample interview questions. Even if you are not asked those exact questions, they will provide the producer with a good idea of what you would like to discuss.

Close to the end of your interview, your host may ask if there is anything else you would like to say about your book. So, have some final comments prepared. They should be a couple sentences that succinctly summarize the main points you want to make. Now's the time to mention the URL for your book web site again and to let your audience know where they can purchase a copy of your book.

During your interview, don’t talk too fast, swallow your words, speak in a monotone, or ramble. Also, avoid providing long and complicated answers to questions. Short answers are best. The interviewer will let you know if he or she wants you to elaborate on or explain any of your answers.

Engage your audience by speaking as though you are having a conversation with them.

Don’t chew gum during your interview.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview. It's important that your mind be sharp and focused.

If you have time, get some media training before the interview. Such training is an especially good idea if you have never done an interview before.

Write a note to the producer and the host after you've completed your interview. Thank them for the opportunity to be a guest on their show.

Special advice for a radio interview:

Never use a cell phone to do an interview. A landline is essential for good sound quality.

If you will be doing your interview by phone, record your key points on 3x5 cards. Keep the cards in front of you during the interview so you can refer to them to jog your memory if necessary.

Special advice for a TV interview:

Don't let your clothing or jewelry distract from what you are saying. Avoid very bright colors, plaids, stripes and flashy jewelry. You want people to focus on what you are saying, not on what you are wearing.

If you sit on a chair or stool during your interview, don’t jiggle your legs or rock back and forth. If you stand, try to stand still.

Avoid making dramatic gestures with your hands. They can be distracting and cause viewers to miss your main points. However, some gesturing to make a point or to convey your enthusiasm is fine.

During the interview, look at your host, not at the camera.

Be sure to bring a copy of your book with you to the interview in case the host has misplaced his/her copy or forgotten to bring the book to the TV studio. Most hosts will hold up your book at least once during your interview so viewers can see its cover.

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