Having your parents’ or grandparents’ life stories captured in some format is an aspiration that many people have. After all, when a loved one has passed away, who wouldn’t treasure the opportunity to delve into their stories and hear their voice once again? Sadly, few people actually get around to interviewing their family members or asking them to record their life bio. It is easier than ever before to record and share videos and photos of grandpa’s childhood memories. Despite this fact, life story interviews remain something many families regret not putting more of an effort into. Especially after a loved one dies.
While the technology is there, our brains are not. We’re arguably over-connected but also chronically busy with workloads, extracurricular activities, social events, etc. On top of that, it’s not as common to live near, let alone with, our older relatives. In the age of remote working and budget airlines, younger generations in particular are flying the coop and either rooting themselves far from home or adopting alternative, nomadic lifestyles. So while there are no lack of options when it comes to recording a loved one’s life story (life story recording apps, life story book generators, blogging, life story video recordings, autobiography services, etc.), in this article we will focus on the easiest, most straightforward option for capturing precious memories and meaningful stories for yourself or a loved one.
Sharing Life Stories with Audio
It’s no wonder podcasts have seen a significant popularity boom in recent years. There are a myriad of reasons for the widespread adoption of podcast entertainment, but the success is partly due to the fact that:
1. Audio content allows listeners to multi-task. I don’t know about you, but my podcast listening happens exclusively while commuting, exercising, cleaning or cooking.
2. Audio content easily breaks down information into digestible segments with listener control over how and when they listen.
So, when it comes to recording your personal memoir to be treasured by friends and family for years to come, audio is a great option. Here are some reasons why:
1. You don’t need to be good on camera
There are a lot of people who are uncomfortable or get nervous with a video camera pointed at them. It makes what would otherwise be a natural conversation, not so natural. It’s widely accepted that people tend to act differently when they know they’re being recorded. They might worry more about how they’re appearing than on what they're saying, which is not something you want when interviewing. With audio, it’s easy to leave a recording device on a table and forget it’s there.
2. It’s easy to access
Voice memos are available on virtually every smartphone, so you have a portable recording device with you wherever you are. This means that you can easily record life stories over time while you’re walking or driving somewhere. It also means that if you’re cooking dinner and a childhood memory suddenly comes to you, you don’t have to jot it down or try and remember it later. If you’re going out to lunch with grandma one day, ask her some life story questions and record your conversation. This process doesn’t have to be formal or done in one fell swoop. It can be an ongoing process that starts at any point in you or your loved one’s life.
3. There’s something extra special about hearing your loved one’s voice
Life story books are wonderful momentos and hugely popular for their tangibility. Plus, they make great gifts. But to hear the emotion in your loved one’s voice and listen to their laugh after they’re gone is especially meaningful. For friends and family to hear your stories, perspectives, thoughts and feelings in your own voice is a gift that will keep on giving. Future generations who will not have met you can gain a better understanding of what you were like from hearing the accent, inflections, and personality that ultimately come through when you're speaking.
4. It can reduce social isolation and loneliness
Social isolation and loneliness are particularly common in senior populations. These conditions are something virtually every public health sector works to combat. Programs like Storii offer a telephone service that calls and asks the recipient a life story question. When the recipient is ready to share their answer, they press a button which records and transcribes their response. That audio file and transcription is then stored to a personal, online life story profile where it can be accessed and shared with friends or family. Those living alone can look forward to these phone calls where they get to meaningfully connect with their past and reminisce about their life.
5. Audio is flexible
Audio is simple to edit and pull from, so it can easily weave itself into other projects or formats. You may decide to make a family history book and interview lots of relatives. These recordings could then be transcribed and turned into chapters of that book. Alternatively, if you're focused on one individual, audio files could be transcribed into a memoir. You could create a slideshow of family photos and have the audio recordings laid over the video, accompanying the photos.