Tomorrow, when you get home from the Black Friday frenzy and before your favorite team plays football, take some time to listen. It’s really not that hard.
Friday, November 23, 2012 is the National Day of Listening.
“StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening launched in 2008 to encourage people to record an interview with a friend, loved one, or member of their community on the day after Thanksgiving as one of the least expensive but most meaningful gifts we can give one another during the holiday season.”
A friend of mine who works with StoryCorps contacted me about this year’s program because he knew about my Voices of War project. Anyone can record their story this year, and on any topic, but this year StoryCorps has chosen to feature the stories of veterans, active duty military, and their families.
I’ve recorded more than 40 interviews for my documentary, but I’ve obviously just scratched the surface. In West Virginia alone (population 1.8 million-ish) there are more than 200,000 veterans who have served their country. While West Virginia is known for having the highest number of veterans per capita, there are millions more stories out there. Family stories are important to capture, too.
And the coolest part is, you don’t need anything fancy to record your story. You already have the tools you need.
“StoryCorps is partnering with SoundCloud to debut an innovative tool that will collect thousands of stories submitted from all across the country. The Wall of Listening allows people to record a story and upload it with a picture of the interview partners. You can record using your web browser, or using equipment readily available to you, such as an iPhone, a digital recorder, or a laptop.”
You’re probably saying “I don’t know how to interview someone.” StoryCorps gives you questions you can ask to get the conversation started right on the webpage. I’ve literally done thousands of interviews over the years. My best tip is to shut up and listen. Ask a question like “Tell me about the time…” “Or how did it make you feel when…” and then be quiet. And when the person you are interviewing pauses for a minute, resist the temptation to fill that space by saying something. Stay quiet. More often than not, your interview subject will pick right back up and continue the story. I promise.
So, take advantage of this together time and record a story or two. You won’t regret it.