Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How... not... to do radio ?!

Yesterday I did my first radio interview for the BBCN Christmas Special on Blog Radio with Donna Brown, who invited some of the authors involved in her Adopt an Indie promotion for a chat. To say it was scary is an understatement. I was hiding in my knickers! It took me back to being a school kid, standing up in class and speaking for some exam, shaking at my knees and squeaking! Perhaps it's not the best idea to make your first attempt at 1.45am on a school night when you have a cold, but when the opportunity arises it's good to take it. Not wanting to let anyone down, you go ahead, despite any worries.  
So, what did I learn?

What not to do (which I did)

- I didn't test out using Skype or the microphone enough. Like how do you hold that thing so that people can actually hear you, but so that you don't sound like some heavy breathing weirdo or someone whispering? So, rule number 1, I'd recommend testing it, just in case, a while before the interview. Obvious, I know.
- I sat prepared and waiting, and listening for 40 minutes, and then rang in to the radio show 4 mins before my slot, as instructed, only to find that I'd forgotten to log into the actual radio station! Doh! Big doh! Rule number 2 - log into the radio show right from the start. Saves on panicking later. Because panic I did, going blank on my user name and password. Rule number 3 - write them down where you can see them, just in case! Cue a lot of flouncing! :)
- I turned off the radio speakers, hit '1' on the pad to speak and then blurted out 'hello' into the empty radio air. Rule number 3 - don't turn off the radio speakers yet. Wait til the interviewer introduces you before you say anything. Otherwise you not only panic yourself, but could knock the interviewer off balance, interrupt them and sound incredibly foolish. I imagine... if I heard myself! If the radio had been on! Wait, be greeted, say hello and then turn it off.
- Number 4 - stay calm. I didn't. It was like I was standing naked in the middle of a footie match. Yikes. No-one needs that view. Especially in the winter when it's cold.
- Try not to speak too fast, interrupt, talk over the interviewer or panic. Calm is the way to go. Just imagine you're not on radio, but talking to a friend on the phone.

What I learnt... 

- I leant how to use Skype for the first time. And wow it's brilliant!
- From chatting to some of the guys in Book Junkies after the show, I discovered that this kind of thing scares most people! So, phew, I'm not totally weird then...
- How other people manage to chat with ease, put forward good points, breathe clearly, speak slowly and seem really at ease... I'm wondering if they've done it before? Or if they were just as nervous and thinking they sounded terrible!
- Have a handy checklist with you! 

Next time I'm thinking to write down some handy notes to jog my memory on the following things ....
- My user names and passwords - in case of chronic blankness!!
- Practice answering questions - think of simple words to jog the memory.
- Have something to say when someone says you've had good reviews - don't just say yes it's cool - maybe mention how you got those reviews, something you particularly liked about them, how it inspired you, etc, or reviews you've done for others.
- Something to say about your books - if you write poetry, what would you say about that? It's harder to comment on than summarising a story in a novel. How would you make that sound interesting and something a listener would want to look up? I was caught short with that question.
- Notes on your book, main characters, when you wrote it, etc
- A list of people/groups you'd like to acknowledge for being helpful or supportive, or good for listeners to look up.
- Remember to thank people - for example, the hard work of the interviewer or just for inviting you on.
- What inspired you to write your book.
- Marketing tips for listeners... where, how and why.
- Tips for using twitter, FB, blogs and places like Goodreads, Kindleboards etc.

- And try not to say uhm... I said this a zillion times!
- Don't rush. Speak in short sentences. Take breaths. Have a glass of water nearby.
- Smile! For some reason it helps!!!
- Be passionate about your subject. 

And have fun :)))

If you haven't heard of it, you can find out about Adopt an Indie - a way for readers and indie authors to come together - at http://adoptanindie.com. The last promotion ran in November and was really successful.There's still time to get involved in February's one...go on, take a look!

Details and links for all of the authors involved last night can be found at bookbagsandcatnaps.com.
Find out about Katrina Byrd, Justin Dennis, Todd R. Tystad, Lynne Cantwell, William G. Jones, Cynthia Hill, Carlyle Clark and Karin Rita Gastreich.

Lots of luck with your next...uuuhmmm... radio interview :)


  1. You did a great job, Vickie both in the interview and on this blog.

  2. Great job Vickie. All great points and good advice on what to say and what to be prepared for. Thank you, but I doubt I will ever do one because I am one of those people who are scared to death to get up in front of people to talk. Probably why you don't see me much promoting myself or my book, lol.

  3. This is a great post Vickie - and in fact I recognise things I do here (like 'Umm' and the breathing). But really I do think it *feels* ten times worse and then when you listen back you're surprised. And I think listeners like to know they're talking to a 'real' person - it helps them connect. You did a great job and I'll be looking forward to talking to you again!

  4. Thanks everyone! I hope the tips help! I had a pure panic logging on - hope that helps anyone doing it for the first time. Jacqueline, maybe you should give it a go. I'm thinking if I did it, you can do it too! You're probably better than me :) Donna I'm a big uhm-er :) Maybe it's a Brit thing! :)

  5. Loved your post, Vickie. It made me smile.

  6. Hi, Vickie,
    You were AWESOME!! And I love this post. I was very nervous myself. I was so nervous about going first. LOL!! But Donna was so amazing. I loved how calm she was.

    I flounce my boa at you, Vicki!!

  7. Thanks Maureen! Hope my fluffiness helps someone!

    Katrina you were brilliant! You came on all happy and chatty, and I loved your accent! You also seem to have done lots of different things, including acting. It was a fun listen. I double flounce your boa! :)


Thanks for commenting - have a groovy day! :)