What is the best way to tell a story without being exploitative (on one end of the spectrum) or boring (on the other end)? Go to the source and let them speak their mind. As writers, Anna and I find a lot of value in learning about people’s experiences and opinions through well-planned interviews. When clients hire us to cover a topic, we don’t just do Google searches and mine our own imaginations, we collect true stories so our writing has depth and originality.
For our recent project for Orlando Health Physicians, we discovered local residents whose lives were saved or profoundly improved because of their relationships with physicians at Orlando Health. Now, Orlando Health is sharing these stories with everyone through their new website, OrlandoHealthStories.com. Not only do you get first-person accounts of patients, you learn what makes the doctors who helped them uniquely qualified in their jobs.
Planning out interviews by developing thoughtful questions in advance is the first step in our process. Next, we send them to the person to be interviewed so they have time to consider their answers. When we meet, we talk through those questions, and then something sparks. The formal questions are just there to get the conversation started, but once our subject are comfortable, they begin to share from their hearts. At that point, our job is to listen and be real. In the end, the best stories and quotes are found in those uncharted waters where people share their truth freely.