Simple Guidelines for Interviewing and Writing Effective Stories.

Any company or organization that seeks to raise its profile needs to be able to tell its story well to their audience. The best stories are those which show that someone’s life or a community has been radically changed. Below are some guidelines when writing stories and doing interviews.

How to do an interview

Prepare your list of questions in advance. List the questions and points you want to ask in brief heading form. Maintain eye contact with the person you are interviewing as much as possible. Listen carefully and establish a relaxed style of questioning. Allow the questions to flow according to the context, glancing at your list only to refresh your memory or fill a long pause in the conversation. If a pause should occur wait for the person being interviewed to continue the conversation. Never direct how the interview proceeds or you may miss the opportunity for obtaining other relevant information outside of your line of questioning. Be open to new questions and new points raised during the interview. Flexibility in your interviewing will allow you to pursue interesting or relevant sidelines as they come up. These may be areas of activity that you are unaware of despite your research. Don’t worry about ending up with more information than you require. Use what you need and put the rest in your files to be used at another time. Ask open-ended questions instead of questions that invite a “yes” or “no” answer will give more interesting responses. These questions usually begin with who, what, when, where and how, and cannot be answered with a straight yes or not.

Example: “How did you get into writing?” “what made you decide on this particular area of writing”? etc.

This type of questioning sets the framework of the interview and is a useful tool when digging for significant information.

Possible Interview Questions for Use with Changed Life Stories:
1.    Tell me about your background – Where were you born and raised? Tell me about your family?
2.    What role did _______ have in your life growing up?
3.    When was the first time you learned about ___________?
4.    What was your first reaction to ___________? What was your family’s reaction?
5.    What’s been the biggest challenge since _________________?
6.    What’s the biggest change you’ve experienced to date?
7.    How has your life changed?
8.    What would you say to those people who have helped you?

Read more in the next post soon to follow entitled:  Storytelling and Interviewing Techniques and Tips

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One response to “Simple Guidelines for Interviewing and Writing Effective Stories.

  1. thanks for these tips. i have been doing interviews in public meetings and these tools are a big help.

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