Top 10 tips for adding verve to a story

My project was bouncing around in my head for a long time. I couldn’t find the right platform. I lost a few months trying to shoehorn my project into a different system.
Once I found izi.TRAVEL, I was on easy street. The CMS is flexible and intuitive. It reminded me of using Wordpress, but it’s easier than that. In fact, if you know what a CMS is, you’ll have no trouble using this one.

I was well underway before I used the help service. I was surprised they responded so quickly and it was obvious they knew the product.
The end result is cool. It’s visually appealing and easy for listeners to access. I beta-tested on several senior citizens. They had no trouble getting the tour onto their phones and using it.


Reporting

1. Tap into passion. If you’re not excited about a particular story, find someone who is and record an interview with him or her. (If you have to do a phone interview, consider a tape sync, where they record their end of the conversation, usually on an iPhone. Don’t be shy about telling them how to get the best sound – a quiet room, a close mic and minimal handling noise.)

2. Record an event. Is there a special day associated with this attraction? Go there and record it. If your listeners can’t visit when this ritual is taking place, give them a feel for what it’s like.

3. Find historical sound. YouTube is your friend. Where there is video, there is usually audio.

4. Google, of course. I found an academic who had written her dissertation about an obscure monument on my tour. You might find a blogger who is obsessed with your subject. That might make a great interview. Look for passion, not necessarily expertise. If you find an Internet myth attached to an attraction, include it in your script. It’s likely an interesting story. Debunk it if it’s not true.

Writing your script

5. Write for the ear. Simple sentences are best. Avoid clauses. Take your hands off the keyboard periodically and read it out loud. I mean it: out loud. Does this sound like something you would say to a friend? If it sounds more like a lecture, take a break. Call your mom. Tell her the story. Write it that way.

6. Use music. You can open and close a story with it to set a mood. You can duck it under your tracks, or fade it as your track begins. Consider sound effects, especially if they add humor. Whatever the sound is, you can bet somebody has already recorded it and put it on YouTube for you to use.

7. Try not to let any one voice go on for more than 30 seconds. Break your narration up with ambient sound, music or interviews. If you’re reading from a historical document or a letter, enlist a friend for those passages.

Tracking

8. When recording your tracks, use a conversational tone. Yes, you’re reading a script, but imagine you’re telling this story at a dinner party. You want to sound engaging, but real. If you’re having trouble with a passage, consider re-writing it. Sentences that look great on paper can be too formal for an audio story.

9. Talk with your hands. You must gesture as you track. I have to make air quotes with my fingers for any phrase in quotation marks or it just won’t sound right. Remove noisy bangles and watches ahead of time. (Never gesture with your mic hand. Unless you have a stand that can put the mic inches from your mouth, talk with just one hand.)

10. Speed it up.  Usually people read too slowly. If you have to, you can shrink pauses and increase the tempo in an audio editor. (My favorite is Audacity, which is free and fabulous.) Make sure it sounds natural. If speed makes it weird, never mind.