Five Talk Radio Techniques

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About two months ago, I was approached by a local talk-radio station to contribute my career and job search expertise for a new program targeting Baby Boomers who are new or returning to the job market. With over 25 years experience in human resources, employment and coaching, I was thrilled with the opportunity to reach a wide audience on a timely subject.

I’ve been a motivational and business speaker for many years, but radio is new to me. The format is informal, with the host and producer introducing the topic, asking questions while I give my expertise and tips for the audience. We have been talking about job searches, resumes and networking for the past couple of shows, and there has been a lot of interest and response. With every taping session for the show, I learn more about the techniques particular to communicating over the radio.

1. Prepare, prepare. Everything is done on a time schedule, and you may only have a few minutes to get your message across. Without the benefit of visuals or PowerPoint slides, you need to pack a lot of information in a short amount of time using very descriptive and visual language.

2. Keep it simple. Choose your words well, but unless your audience is extremely academic or segmented to an industry, use language that is easily understood. State the same concept in several ways and use stories or examples that are familiar to a wide range of people in your target audience.

3. Use body language. Even though the audience can’t see you, your animated body language can come through the airwaves in your voice. It is said that people can “hear” whether you are smiling when you talk. Likewise, hand gestures or movement can enliven your voice and make you message more animated.

4. Watch extra noise. At one of the tapings, I was excited about a point I was making and clapped my hands a couple of times. The host shot me a look with a “no” gesture which reminded me that the clapping sound was coming through the microphone as well, without any clue as to what it was related to. Throat clearing, nail tapping or paper shuffling all come across as irritating noise, detracting from the message and your radio presence.

5. Dress for the stage. I was surprised when the producer started videotaping the radio segment for posting on YouTube. Not only was the show on the air, but was now a video for the entire world to see. I’m glad I dressed the part and not only sounded but also looked like a career professional for the show’s global audience.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients reinvent their careers for today’s job market. You can read more of her blogs at and view additional job postings on Nexxt.

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