21 February 2020
Having spent ten years working as a journalist for the BBC, I’ve made an insane number of cold calls to business owners and event coordinators to ask: “Would you speak about that on the radio?” Far too often, the answer was a hard and simple “no”. Now I get it, you’re a bit shy, you’ve never done it before, you’re worried about being grilled, or being asked unexpected questions… or the classic “I don’t like the sound of my own voice”. But these are all pretty arbitrary reasons for saying no. I didn’t like the sound of my own voice when I started, and now I love it. Or at least it’s tolerable now. But seriously, this list is only of concern to someone who hasn’t appeared on the radio or a podcast before – because anyone who’s actually done it always says, “When can I do that again?!”
Maybe you’re not worried about any of those things. Perhaps you’re a sceptic and what to know “what’s in it for me?” Well, I’ll tell you!
Free publicity. $563 billion was spent on advertising globally in 2019… why not take some free publicity when you get the chance? Say you’re a small business owner, who for some reason has grabbed the attention of the local radio station. You might get a call out of the blue, and quite rightly you might put up your defences. The worry is that you’ll say something wrong, your comments will be taken out of context, or you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the argument. But don’t overthink it. Compared to written journalism, it’s extremely difficult to take what you’ve said on the radio out of context, because it’s you saying it – but if you’re really concerned, only accept interview requests from the outlets you trust. Just think of what you gain if you say yes! You’ve had the name of your business broadcast to thousands of people in your area, people who have never heard of you now know your name, and customers can now put a face and personality to a previously faceless company. No matter your industry, the business case is clear.
Self-development. Business leaders the world over are clamouring for a chance to stand on a stage in front of a 300-strong audience, whether it’s at their local TEDx event, or at a university lecture, and you’re thinking of passing up the opportunity to speak to thousands? Added bonus: a radio interview prepares you for the moment you’re asked to stare your audience in the eyes – and, trust me, it’s not nearly as scary! You get the chance to improve your conversational skills and get comfortable with your message by bouncing off a trained journalist or broadcaster without ever having to see the people you’re talking to. It’s a no-brainer! You’ll also be able to build your portfolio, adding each appearance to your accomplishments list on LinkedIn, or your personal website. And if you’re good, you’ll be asked back time and again, positioning you as a thought leader in your field.
It’s fun! As I said earlier, I’ve yet to meet a person who didn’t want to have another go after appearing on a podcast or radio show. Whether it’s for a brief four-minute news piece, or an hour-long, in-depth interview, you become the star of the show. You get to talk about an area you’re truly passionate about with a person who’s literally trained to be a good listener, so it’s kind of like therapy! And who knows what it could lead to? One psychotherapist I regularly contacted for opinions on emerging trends and topics ended up setting up his own podcast after discovering his passion for the world of audio. Another guest I brought back regularly for appearances on a Friday night magic show applied and was shortlisted for the BBC’s New Voices scheme. Just give it a chance, and if you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. But say yes, and you never know where it could take you!