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Painting Word Pictures on the Radio



By Susan Tomai

Many spokespeople approach a radio interview the same way they would a TV interview. They think “I know my messages, I’ll just deliver them and I’ll be fine.” Not really.

In fact, a radio interview can be more challenging because in the absence of visual cues, the spokesperson must use more descriptive language and storytelling to conjure up images that draw the listener in. The spokesperson should ask “Why should this audience care?” while telling stories about issues and policies that touch listeners where they live. For example, don’t say “four out of every ten Americans is affected by this problem” – say “Let me tell you about a firefighter in Chicago I met last week named Bob Smith who has this problem…” and you’re off and running, with the audience hanging on your every word.

People love to hear stories – and the trick is to talk with, rather than at, the audience. This approach will not only improve your radio skills, but your performance in all kinds of interviews, presentations and speeches.

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