With family reunion season upon us, I challenge you to do one simple task to prepare–today, right now before you forget! The most important might be to arrange a method to digitally record audio stories. You know that stories will inevitably be shared when families get together, starting with Memorial Day and throughout the summer. How I wish I had an audio recording of my dad and grandparents telling stories at the cemetery. I remember some of their family stories, but others have faded with time. I promise, if you arrange to record audio today, you will be grateful years from now. If you order a digital recorder pronto, it can be here within days. You can also install an app to use whenever the need arises. Ideally do both. Here is a quick list of ways to prepare in advance.
How to record audio at a family reunion:
1. Buy a simple voice recorder
I use a digital recorder most days in my family history interviewing work but I also use apps on occasion. We use both a Sony and Olympus, but I like the Olympus a little better. Here is a quick link to my favorite:
The Sony ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder is also a delight to use. It is simple, tiny, has many hours of storage, USB connection, and gives great quality audio. If you are recording outside, consider using a lapel microphone with fuzzy windscreen to cut down on popping sounds from the wind.
2. Get a voice recorder app
There are some great easy recording apps out there, and Rachel and I collaborated on an article reviewing them. (We make nothing from any of these apps, we just want to make it easy for you to record audio). Click here to read Rachel’s review of recorder apps.
3. Prepare for wind when recording outdoors
If you plan to turn on a recorder at a cemetery or park bowery, remember that wind is going to be an issue in the audio quality. Consider getting a lapel microphone and adding a windscreen microphone cover. They look like a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Related article: The best affordable microphones we use
4. Questions, questions, questions!
Great interviews start with great questions. Here are three ways to go to a reunion armed with quality conversation starters.
- Browse our free and extensive library of questions on this page.
- Get our pretty booklet of questions that we give to clients in advance of each professional interview.
- Get a free one-page printable with our all-time favorite questions. You can even print more than one and pass them around. Click here to get “Questions everyone should ask.”
Questions Everyone Should Ask
Don't have regrets. Preserve a life story now with our all-time best questions. Interview a loved one or prompt your own personal history. Do it now, and it will be enough.
5. Get our free interviewing PDF
Want step-by-step instructions for where to begin? Get our free interview tutorial including questions to ask in a printable format. Click here to get the free PDF tutorial.
6. Take our oral history mini course
If you’d like a warmer tutorial, I put together a fun and easy video course that walks you through the interviewing process from beginning to end. It takes less than two hours to complete and will save you so much time. You will feel inspired and confident to complete your first interview!
7. Read Rachel’s tips for how to plan a great family reunion
Rachel has compiled her favorite ideas for planning a successful family reunion. Read here.
We hope these resources lead to your recording an interview this summer season. Even just doing one will be worth the effort today and a priceless family treasure for years to come.
Rhonda Lauritzen is the founder and an author at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. Rhonda lives to hear and write about people’s lives. She believes that when you tell your story, it changes the ending., She and her husband Milan restored an 1890 Victorian in Ogden. She especially enjoys unplugging in nature. Check out her books: How to Storyboard, and Every Essential Element. Most recently she was the writing coach of bestselling author, Rob A. Gentile, who wrote Quarks of Light, A Near-Death Experience: What I Saw That Opened My Heart
Do a family history interview
Sign up and we will email you a free, printable download of our mini-course to conduct a great oral history interview. You will be done in a week or less.