Over the past two months, ACTIVATE! hosted three Media Workshops to equip Activators with the necessary skills to communicate their messages and issues through broadcast media. The workshop was facilitated by Fiona Lloyd, a Southern African journalist with more than 20 years’ experience who specialises in training journalists in conflict and political transition situations.


Here are a few key elements drawn from the workshop on how to hone your message for broadcast media.   




We all do important work and every project has many aspects that the public need to know about. But radio is not the place for long, complicated speeches. On radio we only hear something once, and it’s gone, with no chance to go back and listen again.

This is why it is important to compose a Golden Message: a short soundbite that sums up the most important point you want to convey.  One way to do this is to ask yourself: “If the listeners only remember one thing from my interview, what should that be?”

You should also ask yourself:


  • How ready are people to receive my message?
  • What prior knowledge do they already have about the issue?
  • What might block, or prevent, them from being open to my message?
  • What might persuade them to listen to me?

Preparing your Golden Message in advance will make you feel and sound more confident.  It will also help you to stay focused and in control of the interview.


When talking on radio, also remember to KISS: Keep It Short and Simple! 




Why is it that headlines are always screaming about doom and gloom? Could it be that this is what attracts public attention? It’s a sad fact that important issues aren’t always communicated in an interesting way. That’s why the impact is lost.


So how do we make our listeners identify with our Golden Message?  Fiona Lloyd says it’s not just what we say – but how we say it!


According to Lloyd, the secret of effective radio presentation is simple: Imagine that you’re talking to ONE listener and that she or he is sitting on the other side of the microphone.

This principle applies to all types of radio presentation. Why? Because as soon as you start talking to more than one listener, your tone changes. You lose the intimacy and warmth that we associate with good radio.

And remember to SMILE! You might think that the listener can’t see you, but on radio a smile is the equivalent of making eye contact with your listener. if you can’t see someone, you can immediately tell from their voice whether they’re smiling or not. Smiling lifts your voice and makes you sound more confident and fresh. Even

Extra tips to connect with your listener include:

  1. Motivate your listeners, without preaching or trying to sound “clever”. Talk with them, not down to them. In other words, “Meet them where they are”!
  2. Repeat key words and key ideas during the interview – especially your Golden Message. Listeners may not catch what you say the first time round.
  3. Back up your Golden Message with “real life” examples. Don’t only focus on victims. Share inspiring stories of people who are drivers of change in your community. People who have turned their lives around. People who have made a difference in small but important ways.
  4. Avoid complicated statistics and focus on the human angle. For example, imagine that you are running an anti-malaria campaign. You want people to understand that malaria is a real danger – and that thedisease could affect them personally if they do not take the correct precautions.


Don’t say: “20% of the population is likely to be affected by malaria this rainy season”.

Instead, say: “One person out of every five may get malaria this rainy season. Is that person going to be you?”


Now you have your listener’s full attention. He or she is ready to receive your message.


Lloyd adds that it is also important to relax.


“It’s important to relax, smile and empathise with your caller,” she says. “If the caller is emotional or angry, try to understand why they might feel the way they do. Don’t treat them as though they’re the enemy always try to use their name.” 


And the final word of advice?


“Prepare, prepare and prepare some more! Then, when you’re in front of the microphone, focus on speaking from your heart so that you can reach out to the people who most need to hear your message.”



*For more information about giving media interviews, writing op-eds, social media and creating podcasts, visit the Media and ICT Hive in the Connections Hives and download the ‘Communicating Our Messages’ Media Handbook compiled by Fiona Lloyd. Link: http://localhost:8888/activate/cells/view/914

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