How to Control an Interview and Keep Listeners Riveted

valerie1_110Here are some basics for hosts & interviewers from regular radioinfo contributor Valerie Geller. Don’t miss seeing Valerie as she presents Beyond Powerful Radio at the 2012 National Radio Conference this weekend.

•Forget the long hello. Keep the introduction and greeting short and to the point.

•Listening is the key to successful interviews. Don’t stick to a list. Often the best next question will come from the answer to the last one.

•Try not to ask “yes” or “no” questions. Ask the “how” or “why” questions. Ask how people feel, and have them explain things.

•If you didn’t get enough of an answer, don’t be afraid to ask again. This is especially important in pre-recorded interviews when you are looking for that perfect sound bite.

•Curiosity counts. If you are genuinely curious about the topic, the interview will work. The more it sounds like a normal conversation, the better it works.

•Ask “dumb” questions. Do not be embarrassed if you don’t know all the answers, the audience probably doesn’t either. That’s why you are doing the interview.

•Get to the point. Don’t clutter up the interview with lots of chit-chat.

•The audience cares about how what is being said affects their lives.

•Control the interview. Steer the subject in a better direction if the interview starts to get boring.

•Don’t let slick-talking, verbally skilled guests get around you and not answer questions. Ask your questions again and again until you get answers, then move on.

•Focus on solutions, not just problems. Even if your guests have some pie-in-the-sky solutions or can offer nothing more than a phone number to call, or a website url, that’s better than ending an interview on some hopeless, downward note.

•Respect responses. Listen to people. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. If he or she is an idiot, that will come through loud and clear all by itself.

End your interviews cleanly. Do a short goodbye. You don’t need to recap points made during the interview. Trust that listeners got what was discussed and move on.

About the Author

Valerie Geller, president of Geller Media International Broadcast Consultants, works to help communicators become more powerful in 30 countries, including Australia, for news, talk, information and personality. Through consulting and individual coaching for news and talk talent, Geller finds and develops personalities, leads “Creating Powerful Radio” and “Communicate Powerfully” workshops and seminars for radio and TV broadcasters, internet radio and podcasters. Geller is the recipient of the Conclave’s 2010 Rockwell Lifetime Achievement Award and is the author of four books about radio including her latest from Elsevier’s Focal Press Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age. To contact Valerie Geller for a one-on-one coaching or consulting, appointment, or for information on the “Powerful Radio” seminars and workshops, call +1 212 580-3385

Note: This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on and has been republished with permission.