One of the easiest ways to perfect your documentary storytelling techniques is to watch the work of others. By closely examining the style choices of other documentary filmmakers you can greatly improve your own skills. If you enjoy how a certain documentary was put together or wonder why it had so much impact, watch it again and be sure to take notes.
Consider factors such as character development, shot types, editing decisions, and music. Ask yourself how the director's choices added to the effectiveness of the scene and overall mood of the documentary. What does the director show you about a particular character, how do they choose to reveal it, and what is the overall impact on the viewer's emotions towards that character? Finding the answers to these questions will help you in your own quest to bring a character or issue to life.
No matter which documentary genre you're interested in, there are plenty of sources to learn from. By examining different types and styles of documentaries, you'll find a storytelling technique that works for you. With enough practice you'll soon be on your way to bringing an unforgettable experience to people everywhere.
For more tips on what to study when watching the work of others, check out Director's Chair: Back to Film School.
Also, be sure to take a look at Videomaker's collection of articles and helpful videos on how to make a documentary from start to finish.