Digital storytelling

When produced well, videos provide an excellent means to convey messages coming out of an evaluation.

Because they combine so many different kinds of images and sound, a lot of information can be conveyed in a short time, and attract much more attention than a poster presentation, for example. Video is a highly flexible and immediate medium, and it allows you to make an emotional meaningful connection with the audience more easily.

Depending on what you would like to do with the video and the resources you have available, videos can be produced to reach different audiences. They can be used to add variation to a presentation (see PowerPoint), for example using a clip of a provocative statement made during an interview, or to quickly show a before-after scenario around a development intervention. This can be used as part of a (digital) report or to get feedback from specific stakeholders.

Videos can be produced very easily with mobile phones and home video recorders, along with video editing software packages. However, if you would like to distribute a more professional video about the impact of a programme or your organisations' work, then you will need to put greater resources, professional input and time into its production. Such a PR video is geared towards a wider audience, and can be posted on your website and on YouTube.

Another way that video can be used in evaluation processes is through the Participatory Video (or PV) option. This option has been used with communities around the world since the mid-1990s, and much information is now available on how to do it. PV differs from conventional (documentary) video production as it places control of the content of the video into the hands of a group or community. While professionally produced documentary videos/films aim to achieve high aesthetic and quality standards, PV puts more emphasis on the content and the process (of empowerment) rather than on the appearance of the video. PV therefore calls for a more flexible and open development process, than in professional video production where the product comes first, always keeping the audience in mind.


 "The AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa is placing a great burden on the children of those who are affected. Children often have to take care of the sick and then look after their younger brothers and sisters if their parents die, even when they themselves are still grieving. Nolusindiso’s story offers a moving personal account of what it feels like to live with this burden. She now makes an impact through her work as a caregiver for orphans and vulnerable children, by ensuring that no child in her rural community endures the same struggles that she did." (Sonke Gender Justice Network) 

Source: Sonke Gender Justice Network

Advice for choosing this method

  • It is a highly persuasive medium, and can provide more emotional connection with audiences
  • Use of images in video or photography can reach more people than text (e.g. people who cannot read or write);
  • Images can provide information that words/text cannot – they provoke layers of knowledge and are helpful for contributing to discussions.
  • People can represent themselves through (participatory) video and photographic images in a way that can greatly facilitate the direct exchange of views instead of through interpretation from the outside (e.g. by external evaluators).
  • Video is flexible in that it can have different languages supplying narrative or interpretive information
  • It is becoming more and more accessible in terms of costs and resources. Footage can even be recorded on mobile phones.
  • Using video costs more time but can bring greater depth and yields completely different data than for example filling in questionnaires.
  • The choice between making a conventionally produced video or a participatory video has to do with the objective of the video – letting go of your organisations' control of the message, wanting to get more empowerment and different kinds of communication processes within a community, and putting resources into training people to create videos themselves.

Advice for using this method

  • The key with video is to show, and not to tell.
  • Be clear about the purpose of the video, and the criteria for selecting what should be filmed.
  • Many advise to make an outline of the storyline (script) ahead of time, keeping your target audience (or potential audiences) in mind. However, it is also necessary to remain flexible and open to change depending on the footage you get.
  • Having very little script outlined ahead of time is cheaper and allows for more surprises (e.g. fashioning a video from whatever footage results from filming of different events), but it risks resulting in a poorly focused video with little impact.
  • Obtain permission from the targeted participants before videotaping.
  • Consider the intended audience when determining video length. For example, shorter videos (10-20 minutes) are more easily brought into a meeting setting.
  • Post the video on your website, and also on Youtube to get broader audience viewing.




Crawford, D. (2011, December 13). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Evaluation 5.0. (n.d.). Power of images. Retrieved from

Sonke Gender Justice Network. (Producer). (n.d.).Nolusindiso’s story. [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Stetson, V. (2008). Communicating and Reporting on an Evaluation - Guidlines and Tools. Retrieved June 20, 2012, from

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