Fascinating stories

18 March 2014

We all have them. But how interesting are our stories to others? Well, it depends how you tell the story really….

This morning started early with a telephone call scheduled at 8am. I am working on a surname study project at the moment, engaging with name bearers across the globe to make exciting discoveries about the family tree and the distant origin of the name. Having discussed all sorts of issues which had arisen in our mutual quest for knowledge about our past, I came away from the conversation with a few questions: Why do people suddenly decide to hyphenate a middle name and a surname? How can people just change their name with no documentation to show why? (darn them!)

The morning continued with work on a few ‘Heir Hunting’ cases, paperwork and such like. And then I had the pleasure of a telephone call from a lady in Berkshire who had been referred to me by someone I used to teach with about eight years ago…. That left me with even more questions: What validation do people seek in their research before accepting their conclusions as fact?

In both conversations, the caller almost apologised for talking about their own family stories, but I was actually fascinated by both!

Sometimes when you meet people with an interest in family, local or social history, they can corner you and bore you to death about their family, their research, their conclusions and their brick walls. Not everyone is interested in hearing a big long story about the work you have done. But, if you make the story short, succinct, snappy and stimulating (the 4 Ss), you have more chance of keeping your audience engaged! So, who wants to book me for a 60 second lecture? 5 minutes? 20 minutes? 40 minutes? 3 hours? You decide….!

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