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Has Anyone Ever Told You…

I had the distinct honor of being a guest on an internet radio show this week called Lydia’s Literary Lowdown.  The host, Lydia Aswolf, is also a writer and avid reader and I’m very grateful  for the opportunity to guest on this show as an up and coming author. I feel privileged as Lydia’s first children’s book author on the show.

I have to admit I have never done a live interview, not even for five minutes. At least not one where I wasn’t behind a camera asking the questions.  I will also admit that I was more than a little nervous. An entire hour talking about myself? Oh my.

For those of you that are ever asked to interview about yourself, your work, or an event,  I’ve listed a few tips to help you prepare:

  1. Get a feel for the host and his or her style. If you are  scheduled for a future date, make sure you listen to or watch the show on which you are a guest.  This helps you understand what kinds of questions your host asks, how much you should prepare to talk and what the listeners are interested in.
  2. Ask yourself and answer the questions you would like to know– about yourself, or the topic, event, or situation you are going to talk about.   Then type out the answers.  This helps in getting focused ahead of time as well as staying  focused during the interview.
  3. Be yourself.  You might be a professional ‘whatever’ or part of some very specific event you plan to discuss.  You are the guest and people are listening to YOU. Concentrate on being meaningful, rather than just impressive. If you come across as being anything other than sincere and real, people will know it and be turned off by it.
  4. Have good and memorable knowledge to share.  While people may like you for you(see #3), they are also taking 5 minutes, a half hour or an hour of their life to listen to you. As a guest, you owe it to them to do your homework and have valuable information or insight.
  5. Take a breath, relax,and have water nearby. Be clear when you speak, so listeners can easily hear you.
  6. I share interviews I’ve done for Pittsburgh On Video and I always set up what I’d like to know about the person I am interviewing before the camera starts rolling. If you are given the chance to talk through an impromptu interview, it is absolutely fine to take a minute to compose yourself and think through what message or story you want to share.  Then, take a breath and relax.

To listen to my interview with Lydia you can find it on blogtalkradio.com dated for 2.22.11 under Lydia’s Literary Lowdown.  Click here to go straight to the interview. I sincerely thank Lydia for sharing my story.

Having now reviewed my interview, I have a few tips of what NOT to do.

  1. Don’t talk just to fill up space. It is the hosts job to help get your information out and they will if you let them.  If you talk to fill the void, you may end up babbling about why your name is your name and other really irrelevant information.
  2. Don’t answer a question without thinking of your main point. If you start answering without knowing where you intend to stop, the audience might not follow any round about discussions that happen in between the message.  A slight hesitation is acceptable before answering, in my opinion, as you clear your head.
  3. Don’t get off-task with trivialities.  The audience wants valid, credible information- not what you did before breakfast,  etc. Some anecdotal glimpses into your life are appropriate for some interview topics, but they can be overdone if you aren’t careful.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification before answering. Concentrate on the questions you are asked and try to answer each one. If you don’t understand or are unclear, ask the host to explain the question or further identify what he or she is asking you to address. Listeners are following the hosts line of thinking.
  5. Don’t fixate on the things you forgot to mention or didn’t have time to share. Maybe next time.  If it’s that important, you can always post it in a blog or share it in other venues later.
  6. Don’t worry if you make a mistake. We’re all human and I’ll bet listeners don’t mind it if you aren’t completely perfect. It’s the story that’s important. If you tell a good one, a few snags in the delivery won’t matter.

Do you have any suggestions for doing an interview?  Comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Life is like an eternal interview. If you read the highlighted suggestions again, they apply to more than just our interview skills.

Simply Put- An interview is just a conversation between two people that is being shared with others.

Addendum: 2/27/11. For clarification and correction from the interview. Past invitations as a Music Therapist to be a guest speaker/presenter were for UMWA Funds for several events, not for the UMWA Union itself.  The articles and poem(written for my grandfather who was a coal miner) that have been submitted for consideration are for publication in a quarterly newsletter that is part of the Bereavement initiative. The program is still in development.

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