Regardless of your public profile and reputation, how wealthy you are, what remarkable gadget you have invented, how many books you have sold — or how you are rockin’ the world — being invited as a guest on a radio or television talk show is a privilege – not a right. This truth applies to the popular shows such as David Letterman, to CTV’s Canada AM, to a unknown internet radio show.
So, you finally get a shot at it – you get that call from the producer or host and you land a spot on the show. What a great opportunity to get your message out! The question is: what kind of guest are you going to be? The answer will determine if you will get another shot at it in the future — or not.
Here are the best ways to be the best worst guest on radio and TV talk shows and ensure you never, ever get called back:
1.Complain for the sake of it – If you have minor issues with the studio set-up, production, producer, host(s), make-up, parking, other guests, etc., it is best to keep it to yourself. Complaining comes across as criticizing and ingratitude. There are plenty of people who would be grateful to have your spot on the show. Of course, if you have a serious issue concerning your interview that could be harmful to you that needs to be addressed, that is a different story. But to complain for the sake of complaining is unwise and can be detrimental to you.
2.Make unreasonable demands – If you make unreasonable demands, such as requesting the production cover your transportation costs to get to/from the studio (if they have not already offered), you will be perceived as difficult and, well, a Prima-donna. However, it is perfectly acceptable to make reasonable requests, such as how you will be introduced on the show, or requesting a glass of water when you arrive. Just do not go overboard.
3.Tell tall tales – While this may seem obvious, lying or fibbing – or stretching the truth — about anything related to the topic of your interview or your professional background is not recommended. You will appear out of integrity and it will tarnish your reputation. Period.
4.Be boring – If you are dull and uninteresting, you will be high on the “bore factor,” and therefore low on the ratings scale — and interest to the host. While it is not possible for every human being to be “on” every waking hour of the day and night, is is possible to put a little more energy into your interview than you might in your average everyday conversation. It is best to add a little punch and juice into your delivery.
5.Be unprepared – By not researching the talk show you are about to be on, such as the show’s format, you may appear unprepared at best, disinterested at worst. Also, you might look silly if you are not able to answer the host’s questions relevant to your area of expertise. The best interview is the prepared interview. So do your homework.
6.Act foolish – You may be aware of the famous Billy Bob Thornton interview with CBC radio’s Jian Ghomeshi. The guest acted like, well, foolish. The interview spread like wildfire on YouTube with many people applauding Ghomeshi for his professionalism and how he handled the extremely difficult interview; and at the same time Thornton’s reputation was damaged. If you have not seen it, check it out on YouTube and you will know what I mean.
7.Show up late – If your in-studio interview is “live,” that means the cameras roll at a specific time, whether you are there — or not. If you are scheduled to be on a “live” (or taped) studio talk show, it is best to arrive a few minutes earlier than requested. Not only does this make you appear keen, but it also prevents extreme stress — and panic — that the host, producer and production crew will experience if you are not there on the agreed-upon time. Of course, the same principle applies to telephone radio interviews. It is best to show up on time.
8.Cancel last minute – Much worse than showing up late is to cancel last minute – or be a no-show – regardless of the reason. This is most damaging to your reputation with the producers. Also, be aware that by not showing up, your behaviour could result in a producer getting fired from their job. If you are a no-show or cancel a “live” show last minute, you are likely to never get a call again. And better yet, your competitor will.
Being an ungracious guest could hurt your reputation and certainly will not help improve your public profile. And guess what? The show’s producer just might call your competitor and give them the airtime instead. The best practice is to be polite, gracious and professional – and know your stuff.