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

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

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

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