The basics of good interviewing apply to an audio story. But there are additional factors for audio narratives, especially if you’re planning to tell the story without the benefit of a reporter or narrator. Here are some tips for producing non-narrated stories:

Ask the person speaking to say their name and occupation in the form of a sentence. This serves several purposes.

  • You’ll probably need to lead the non-narrated piece with the introduction.
  • It will tell you how the person pronounces their name.
  • It becomes a great “labeling” scheme for your files. (It tells you what’s on the file in the first couple of seconds.)
  • It’s a good way to check the levels on your recording equipment. Capturing sound in the right volume range is probably the most important technical aspect of recording, especially with digital equipment. If the sound is too low, the background noise will be high. If it’s too high, the sound will “clip” or distort.

Ask the person to repeat the question with each answer they provide. Be vigilant about this. Answers such as “yes” and “to make it better” aren’t helpful when the question they address isn’t known.

Taken from Writing for the Ear, a self-directed course by Dan Grech at Poynter NewsU.

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