It may sound obvious, but when you do a radio or podcast interview, the listener can’t see you. They can’t see your expressions, your body language, your smile or frown, so all they have to judge you on is your voice.
And generally, the listener is doing something else.
Only part of their brain is focused on what you are saying – the rest is cooking the dinner, driving to work, getting their children ready for school.
That means that they probably only dip in and out, and if your voice is boring and bland, then it will be mainly out.
To get them to listen, not only does what you say need to be compelling, you need to make your delivery “a little bit more Gruffalo” in the words of our presentation trainer Sue Carruthers.
What that means is you need to use the techniques and tactics that you might use if you were reading a story to a small child.
What are those techniques to improve delivery?
Volume: this might get louder when something dramatic is happening, or quieter, to draw the listener in
Pace: you might speed up to add excitement (but not so much that people can’t keep up with what you are saying) or you might slow down to add emphasis and drama. This gives a subconscious signal to the listener that you are saying something important, while also giving them time to take it in
Pause: again, this adds drama, and again can help the listener the chance to take in what you’re saying
Pitch: varying your pitch will signal to the listener what it is you’re trying to convey, and again make your voice more interesting
Emphasis: putting your emphasis on different words can change the meaning of your sentence. Emphasise “trigger words”, the ones which will spark a reaction in your listener, the ones you really want them to remember
Pronunciation: when reading a story to a child, you speak particularly clearly, so your words don’t all run into together. Aim for the same thing. Remember that people aren’t likely to wind back and replay what you say if they miss it – especially if what you’re saying doesn’t sound that interesting
Read more: radio interviews – an insiders guide
These techniques work – not just for radio, but for any interview you might give – including with print journalists – and for any presentations or public speaking you give.
From now on, listen out for these different techniques during interviews and presentations – and you’ll see just how effective they can be.