Philip Clark: Mastering The Live Interview

Most people have an issue with listening to their own voice being played back to them. I am particularly aware of this issue, as I have to listen to my own voice for thirty minutes every fortnight in my attempt to be a rookie radio host for Newsfeed. Expecting the rich mahogany of what usually is produced by my vocal chords, I instead hear a high-pitched voice of a ten-year-old. It makes for excellent listening, I promise.

Philip Clark, on the other hand, does not seem to have this issue, and with good reason. Clark presents the flagship Breakfast show on Canberra’s local ABC radio station 666. Trained as a lawyer at our very own ANU, Clark was actually a resident at Burgmann College – something that I do share with him – the only difference being that he was there when Kevin and Therese were just starting out on the road to becoming Australia’s ultimate power couple.

Having kindly accepted the invitation to speak at Woroni Weekend last Saturday, Clark came equipped with his own microphone and a slideshow presentation filled with exceptionally useful tips for broadcast journalists. First, we examined the different types of interviews, ranging from “the attack dog” to the “please explain this incomprehensible topic”. He stressed the importance of establishing what you want to achieve from the interview beforehand and maintaining control of the narrative throughout.

PREPARATION is a word that deserves to be all in capitals because, without it, the interview is going to be insubstantial and just a tad awkward. By preparing and knowing what you want out of the interview, you’ll be able to establish the key questions needed to be answered in order to engage your audience and get the most out of the talent. These questions can serve as a guide in case you become lost or the talent goes off on a tangent.

It is also very easy to feel intimidated and become flustered if the interview takes a turn for the worse, says the man who has interviewed the likes of Abbott and other political heavyweights. The audience can easily identify when the interviewer has lost it. Take for example the frustrated reporters’ reactions whilst trying to deal with a man notorious for hijacking bystander reports with a particular profane phrase. Clark’s advice is to stay calm and remain in the driver’s seat.

Lastly, don’t forget to listen and be prepared to change tack. Know your opening question but also know how you’re going to end the interview. A common mistake people make is not knowing how to get out of it… so I’m just going to end it here. Thanks for reading!