6 Tips for Transcribing Family Function Interviews

6 Tips for Transcribing Family Function Interviews
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


There are stories told around the dinner table, at birthday parties, holidays, and family gatherings. Unfortunately, they're also only passed down a generation or two.

But wouldn't it be great if your family history could be captured forever?

Family stories shape values, provide a sense of history, and form bonds that can last forever--if they are transcribed.

Many people are interested in capturing the stories that mean the most to them and those they love, meaning there's a market for people who know how to set up interviews, identify important information and transcribe it.

Here's a look at six tips for interview transcription for family functions:

1. Pay close attention to timelines

Dates matter. However, many people gloss over or can't remember exact dates or times. But in order to truly capture a family's history, you'll have to attempt to get the storytellers to be as accurate as possible.

Pay close attention to dates. Highlight any dates that are mentioned and then come back to them later to confirm them with the storyteller or others.

2. Make sure to note all the names

When it comes to truly capturing a family's history, name changes can cause a lot of confusion.

Make sure to take detailed notes of all maiden and married names. You may even want to create a family tree based on nicknames, maiden names, and married names.

This will help you when you interview other people who share stories that involve other family members.

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3. Verify locations and landmarks

So much of a family's history is tied to towns, cities, locations, and landmarks. Make sure you ask questions that allow you to verify the places that have played important roles in a family's history.

For example, a grocery store may have changed names several times over the past 50 years, but it's still important to note its name at the time the storyteller references it.

4. Use reference materials

A great way to help you truly capture a family's history is to ask the people you are interviewing to bring reference materials with them.

It could be a family tree, a bible, photo albums, slideshows, an heirloom, or anything else that helps move the conversation forward.

In fact, these items can actually help you take your services to the next level by creating multimedia presentations that can be posted online, shared on social media, given as gifts , or shared at family gatherings.

5. Be prepared

Many people have a lot of stories to tell, but they might not be comfortable sharing them without some prompting. This means you need to be prepared.

Try to do a little research on the family prior to the interviews. Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask. Ask open-ended, direct questions. And always (always!) have your recording equipment with you for the interview.

There is nothing worse than conducting an interview that you are unprepared for--or doing a great interview and not being able to record all of the great information you get.

6. Respect privacy

There are some things families do not want to share. And some families want to be sure you won't take their information and turn it into the next great American novel.

For these reasons, you want to be especially sure that you go into the interviews clearly about the respect you have for the family's privacy.

Make sure you have the "privacy discussion" so everyone is on the same page. Consider developing a nondisclosure agreement and having everyone sign it.

The bottom line is to treat a family with the respect that you would want for yours.

Read Also: Transcribing Numbers: The Basic Rules

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.