Talk radio is a great venue for groups to shift public opinion and where everyone can learn effective communication. To deliver your message clearly and powerfully:
- Familiarize yourself with the program before calling, especially if the host holds opposing views to the one you’re delivering. If you think the host may be antagonistic, learn points of agreement you can use as a “launching pad”
- Cater to the audience: speak their language and know their perspective
- Focus on one main message and make the messages consistent across the members of your group
- Stories/emotion + facts/reason = persuasion; integrate an element of each, especially if your audience is not already on your side. In that situation especially, a compelling story is powerful
- Know your sources; be prepared cite to a source that’s respected by that show’s audience
- Be concise and direct; make your case quickly (most callers get less than one minute), but speak in real sentences and not just sound bites. Skip any greetings or pleasantries (e.g., “how are you doing?”) and go straight to the topic
- Practice your 30-50 second pitch out loud, and repeat until you can do it smoothly and comfortably; keep a few bullet points (not a script) in front of you if that helps (no one will see you looking!)
- Be prepared for the screener. If the show is open to all views or the host is sympathetic, just make your quick pitch. If you don’t normally hear views that dissent from the hosts’, be aware that you may need to bluff to get on the air. In this case, starting with a point of agreement with host can be critical
- Make sure you have time to wait and turn off your radio when cued by the screener
- Listen to the show from the start, when you plan to call and get in the queue early. If possible, plan with an ally to tag-team with calls during the same hour to reinforce the first call.
- Direct people to your preferred source for more information and action; articulate it clearly and repeat it if possible
- Close with a clear call to action, if applicable
- Try humor and modesty when communicating with others
- Use a calm, confident voice; a positive tone attracts people to your ideas
- Avoid long pauses; hosts hate dead air
- Remember your real target: the listeners; don’t try to “win” an argument with the host. Focus on the message you want listeners to take away or the action you want them to take
- Befriend the host; even host with starkly differing views may come to appreciate a respectful and well-prepared antagonist; pay them a genuine compliment when possible and let them know you listen
- Take notes a soon as you hang up to improve your performance next time. You often can stream recent episodes on a show’s website.
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