5 Tips for Outstanding Interviews

Today’s short tip sheet is fresh in my mind! I’ve been working with my daughter, who has good videography skills, to create an intro video for the Remembering the Time FaceBook page. I’m usually on the other side of a microphone when doing interviews so this was a fun experience. Got it done in an hour and a few giggly retakes. She’s making it all look pretty and taking out my um’s, ah’s, and mis-speaks.

So…when you’re interviewing a family member or friend for their memoir or another family history project, here’s a few things I’ve learned through years of interviewing people in a wide variety of situations (note: these work great whether it’s a short storytelling session or a longer oral history):

# 1 – Before you set up your recorder – take time to talk story and common ground to build rapport.

# 2 – Don’t stick a microphone in someone’s face if you can avoid it. Set up in a quiet room with few distractions and place the recorder/phone in an unobtrusive position on a table or chair in front of your storyteller. Or make sure their collar microphone is secure. Then engage again in a little small talk to ease nervousness before you begin.

# 3 – Don’t be afraid of silences, they’re thinking. You can gently prompt as needed, “Can you tell me more about…”

# 4 – Don’t turn off the recorder too early! Many of the best side-stories happen when you thought you were done.

# 5 – Have fun, encourage your storyteller, and listen quietly but engaged, making eye contact while they talk.

If you have further questions about interviewing please feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!


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    Karen Ray

    Address: 331 Bristol Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001

    Phone: 575-323-1048