What To Expect

A Share Your Story interview is approximately 40 minutes of uninterrupted time for meaningful conversation with a friend or loved one. What are the questions you want to ask and the memories you want to preserve? No matter how well you know your storyteller, a little preparation will improve the quality of your interview enormously.

When you arrive at your session with a friend or loved one, a trained Share Your Story Facilitator will meet you to explain the process, make you feel comfortable in the recording space, and sit with you during the interview session. If you come alone, the Facilitator will conduct the interview.

  • There are four basic steps:

  • Welcome: The Facilitator will provide some background information about Share Your Story, explain his or her role in the interview process, and answer any questions you might have.

  • Prep: The Facilitator will walk you through the paperwork, which asks for basic personal information such as name, address, and ethnic background.

  • Sound check: Once you and your interview partner are ready to proceed, the Facilitator will make sure you are positioned well for recording and check the audio levels.

  • Interviewer: Use your prepared question list, but remember they are just suggestions to get you started. Trust your instincts. When you hear something that moves you, ask more questions. Sometimes your storyteller will need “permission” to explore a certain topic; you can simply say “Tell me more.” Feel free to ask questions in whatever order feels right, and don’t let them constrain the conversation. Real moments are the best moments.

    Some tips for helping the conversation flow:

    Look at your storyteller’s eyes, not the microphone. Stay interested and engaged.

    Be yourself; you can laugh or even cry with your storyteller.

    Emotional questions like “how does this make you feel?” often elicit thoughtful responses. Don’t be afraid to ask.

    Be curious and honest and keep an open heart. Great things will happen.

  • Interviewee: Your interviewer should have a prepared question list about a topic on which they would like to know more about you.  When you answer a question, try to forget the recording materials and just answer the question as fully and honestly as possible.  Avoid one-word answers.  Elaborate; provide details; tell stories – this is what will make your interview experience valuable to you, your interviewee, and for others who may listen to it. 

    While you and your partner are talking, the Facilitator will take notes, keep time, and monitor audio. Facilitators are not interviewers, though they may ask a question during the recording.

Interview Tips and Suggestions

Arrive ten to fifteen minutes before your scheduled interview time.

Go to the bathroom before you come.

Bring a list of questions with you. If you need help, read our great questions page.

Bring a bottle of water for you and your interview partner.


Share Your Story is a project of the Montana State Library in partnership with Montana public libraries to collect and share Montana stories through videos and podcasts. Watch a video, listen to a podcast, or create your own. This project is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

© 2020