Using real life stories to get results

An organization’s mission comes to life when those affected by the work share their stories with candor. Audio stories, much less expensive than video, create an intimacy and sense of immediacy that cannot be achieved through print media. And they are affordable for most nonprofits.

The process is customized to the needs of the client. But in general it works this way:

  • In consultation with Barbara, the client identifies the people whose stories they want to highlight.
  • Barbara conducts a brief pre-interview to help generate guiding questions. It’s important to note that not everyone is a good candidate for this kind of storytelling. Feedback from the pre-interview often informs the process.
  • The interview is scheduled. A typical interview lasts about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the objectives.
  • Listening is an art. We all know when someone is paying close attention to what we say. Someone who is an “inspirational listener.” Often the best parts of a story are revealed at the end of an interview, when the interviewee feels safe and truly heard.
  • If photography is involved, Barbara makes those arrangements. In the case of an audio slide show, photographs are taken that support the script and respect the client’s budget.
  • Editing the audio down to a 3-minute nugget is the next step. Research shows that people won’t listen online for more than 3 minutes. So it’s important to grab their attention early on … and keep it.
  • The client receives a transcript of the 3-minute portion of the interview to review before the piece is produced.
  • The final piece is delivered to the web editor for posting online. Barbara can suggest platforms for optimum listening and, in some cases, viewing.


The goal of I’mtellinya is to produce stories that are sound rich. This means combining narrative with ambient noise that provides context for the story (children playing on the playground, the ticking of a clock, the sound of rushing water in a stream after a heavy rain.) While not every interview lends itself to this treatment, we strive for a product that helps the listener enter the story through sound.

Most pieces are sent to the client’s web editor as an mp3 or wav file. Audio slideshows are sent as i-Movie files.

A written transcript of each interview accompanies the file.

Case histories