How to make sure you don't get invited back as a guest on a radio program: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

In my recent hitch as a radio talk show host at KAHL in San Antonio, I was reminded of all the things guests did that seriously hurt (or even killed) their chances of ever getting invited back on the air.

Here's my top 10 list of "Talk Show Don'ts." If you're invited to appear as a guest on radio or TV, make sure you don't blow your chances of getting repeated exposure by making these mistakes.

BTW...I'm going to use the word "host" below, but the same applies in some cases to producers (the people who actually get on the phone and book the guests)

Mistake #1: Failing to provide a list of suggested questions or talking points--either through email or on a "Media Room" on your website.

I interviewed 7-10 guests in every program every day, and that meant a *lot* of time researching topics and preparing questions for guests who didn't provide them in advance. No host can possibly be well-rounded and knowledgeable about everything, so you'll score big points by making it easy for them.

BTW...hosts will also love you for making them *sound* as if they know what they're talking about, even if they don't.

Mistake #2: Providing a list of questions but forgetting the answers to some of them.

This is deadly. Listeners can tell when you're struggling, and believe me, the host will remember it too.

Mistake #3: Failing to offer the host any biographical information about yourself, either in your media room or via email.

Mistake #3a: Giving the host a three page long bio that contains a whole lot of irrelevant information. Who has the time to read all that stuff and sort out what's relevant from what isn't?

Mistake #4: Plugging your book, product, service or website incessantly. There's an art to "selling from the stage" without sounding like a huckster. No host will mind if you mention your product or service once or twice, but doing it more than that will make the interview sound more like an infomercial--a sure way to raise the host's discomfort level.

Mistake #5: Starting to answer a question before the host is done asking it.

This is one of my major pet peeves. First, it's just plain rude. Second, you don't necessarily know where the host is going with a question, so you might answer a question they really weren't asking. And third, it's inconsiderate to listeners, who are hearing two people talk over each other, which literally creates "cognitive dissonance" and makes it tougher for the listener to follow the conversation.

Mistake #6: Taking a long story from your speech and telling it on the air. Professional speakers tend to do this a lot.

Remember, radio is supposed to be a conversation, not a presentation. Stories that work in a seminar or convention setting may fall flat on a talk show.

Mistake #7 Trying to engage the host by suddenly asking him or her "pop questions."

I know you'd love to believe that the host is hanging on your every word, paying close attention to you as you speak. The truth is, the host is often distracted by things going on in the studio that neither you nor the listeners have any clue about. They're going to be really embarrassed--and more than a little annoyed--if you put them on the spot by asking them a question they don't have an answer for--and then waiting for them to reply.

Mistake #8: Saying "Well, as I already told you..." or something similar when the host asks you a question you believe you've already answered. It's like saying to the host, "Well, you're pretty stupid for asking that." See #7 above about distractions in the studio. Simply rephrase your previous answer and move on.

Mistake #9: Calling the host by name every other sentence. It leaves the audience with the impression you don't know they're there--or don't care. Using the host's name 2-3 times during an interview is okay--and probably even good. But more than that gets old.

Mistake #10: Failing to send a personal, handwritten thank you note. It makes a *huge* impression because so few people do it. Sending an email "thank you" is better than nothing, but it doesn't come close to something in writing sent via snail mail.

Follow these tips and you'll be "talk show friendly." Which will result in thousands or even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars worth of repeated free publicity that's more believable, powerful, productive and profitable than any advertising you can buy at any price.

This appeared originally in George McKenzie's excellent Publicity Pro newsletter. For your own free subscription, or visit

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