Preparing for a telephone interview on live radio

National Campaign for CourtesyThis morning I got a call from BBC Radio Five Live asking if I would take part in a live discussion about courtesy on national radio. As I am a volunteer on the executive of the National Campaign for Courtesy, I said yes. The campaign achieves a high profile by taking opportunities such as this in the UK media.

As this hadn’t been a planned part of my schedule, I scooted round to be ready for the call at 9.00am. Often a radio station will ask to speak over a landline to get a clearer signal. I closed my office door, cleared my desk and got out my notebook. Then I looked up the main story they wanted to talk about: the question of whether MPs should have offered Jo Swinson a seat during Prime Minister’s Questions recently. I jotted down some details, including her name. I also opened the National Campaign for Courtesy web site in another browser tab and jotted down a couple of points.

When the member of the production team called to invited me on, they asked me a few questions and I jotted down my answers to these, along with bullet points of things I wanted to say. I also made a note of the web site address – yes, I know it off by heart, but nerves can strike anyone however experienced and I like to have things in front of me so that I can just read them out easily without hesitating as I try to remember.

The phone rang and the production staff put me through. Nicky Campbell was the presenter and very ably introduced the speakers and a number of callers from the public. Whenever a caller was introduced, I jotted down their name and the points they made. I’m terrible at remembering names so this enabled me to refer to callers by name and refer to their phrases directly in my responses.

It was a very enjoyable interview and Nicky Campbell introduced the campaign and me three or four times. What good exposure for the charity on a radio station which attracts up to 7 million listeners. Thank you to Nicky and to BBC Radio 5 Live.

I hope this helps you if you are asked to speak on radio. I know that many people get nervous, which is natural, but if you prepare you can enjoy it too and get exposure for you, your organisation or business.

• Robert Zarywacz is a UK writer, PR and journalist | partner in Zarywacz | courtesy consultant at and the National Campaign for Courtesy

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