Media Training Tips for Spokespeople
Top Tips for Stunning Soundbites
Before recording Audio News Releases & Audio Bite Lines:
- Read your soundbite several times aloud. When you read aloud, you will get a feel for what words might trip you up, not flow well, and sentences that are too long. Without altering the content, make changes to the script to make it read more naturally. What may look perfect on paper may sound awkward or flow unnaturally when read aloud.
- If possible, practice with a tape recorder, and listen back to the soundbite. Does it sound natural? As if you are answering a question or explaining a point in normal conversation? What changes would you make to sound more natural?
- The key to a good soundbite is that it is easily recalled by the listener. Your soundbite should be memorable and simple. Stay away from long, complicated sentences. If you notice that you are running out of breath or must take deep breaths in the middle of the soundbite, split up the sentences and/or mark where you plan to take breaths.
- To make your soundbite as conversational as possible, highlight the important points in your soundbite and use them to guide you, as you would in giving a presentation using an outline.
- Use words that create a picture in the listener’s mind and stay away from using a passive tone with your words. Use active verb tenses to really engage the listener.
- Pick out several words that are key to each sentence and stress those words as you are following the script. This will make you sound more impassioned and engaged in the topic.
- Have a voice warm up by humming or talking before the recording session starts.
During recording of Audio News Releases & Audio Bite Lines:
- During the recording, you should find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or stand, whichever makes you most comfortable. Use normal body language like gestures and expressions just as you would if you were giving a presentation. This will give your soundbite a natural, conversational feel.
- In case you get thirsty, have water or hot tea with lemon available. This will also keep your mouth from getting dry. If your recording takes place around a meal time, eat at least an hour before your recording session, so your voice is as clear as possible.
- Have your copy of the script in front of you to help you stay on track.
- Project your voice a little more than you normally would. Keep the mouthpiece of the phone about two inches from your mouth and breathe normally during the recording. The recording equipment is very sensitive and can pick up all types of sounds.
- Be prepared to do several takes when being recorded. Your producer will come back on the line between takes and give you feedback on each soundbite. The average number of takes is three to four in order to get that perfect soundbite!
- The producer will usually ask you to record each soundbite “from the top” or “from the beginning.” The reason for this is one continuous take often sounds more natural than several sentences edited together. Slight changes in intonation or stressing could sound awkward when spliced together into one piece.
- How you feel comes across in your voice, and you want to sound alert, informed and enthusiastic. If you are prepared and relaxed, your confidence and comfort will come through on the recording.
Top Tips for Radiant Radio Interviews
In preparation for the Radio Media Tour:
- Prepare five to six key bullet points and supporting materials. If you have statistics on local markets where interviews are scheduled, prepare and review them.
- Complete a dress rehearsal. Practice as much as you can. Have people ask you questions on the subject matter to practice how your answers will sound. Answer questions out loud using gestures and body language that you would use as if you are speaking in front of an audience.
- Visualize how the story will play on the radio. This will help you prepare concise, quality answers.
- Use words that create a picture in the listeners’ mind and stay away from using a passive tone with your words. Use active verb tenses to really engage the listener.
- Prepare sound bites. Answers should generally be about 30 seconds in length, which will give the reporter sound bites they are looking for. Less editing for the reporter means potentially more airplay of the interview.
- Remember that your interview may get edited, so keep the context of the interviews in mind and keep your answers as simple and straightforward as possible.
- Do what you can to feel great the day of the interviews. Get a good night’s sleep and try and get up an hour before the first interview to make sure you are fully awake before you get started. And, have a good breakfast to get you energized before you start.
During the Radio Media Tour:
- Have a warm up session where you do a mock interview, and warm up your voice by humming.
- Have your bullet points and notes handy, as well as some blank paper to takes notes.
- Have your phone on “do not disturb” so stations cannot hear other lines ringing or call waiting. Similarly, turn off your cell phone so the ringing cannot be heard on air. Complete the interviews in the quietest place you can.
- Have water or hot tea with lemon handy. Take sips between interviews to keep your mouth and throat from getting dry.
- Have the mouthpiece of the phone about two inches away from your mouth and be sure to talk directly into the phone instead of using speakerphone.
- When you get connected to the station, jot down the name of the reporter or host, so you can refer to him or her by name. This helps to personalize the interview and make it more conversational.
- Have a strong opening for the interview. It really helps to grab the attention of the reporter and the audience from the start.
- Use straightforward words and concepts and employ metaphors and analogies to illuminate concepts and make them easy to comprehend.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. When appropriate talk about “us” instead of “you.”
- Have a running list of the points you have made and try to address each of them. Many times, as an interview is winding down, reporters will ask you if you have anything else to add. This is the perfect opportunity to address issues that were not touched upon during the course of the interview.
- Have a memorable closing statement. This will really help drive your point home and provide listeners with something to take away from the interview. Also, be prepared with an action statement, either a website or phone number where the listeners can get more information and get involved.
- And last, but not least — have a good time!