Recording your first Oral History interview

Helpful hints and tips on how to avoid basic oral history recording mistakes

Image of Oral History interviewer with notes asking interviewee a question
Avoid common mistakes when conducting your first oral history interview

Conducting an oral history interview for the first time can seem a daunting task, but is really quite a straightforward exercise once you’ve become aware of the common mistakes that are made and how they can be avoided. Whether you’re recording an interview in video or audio-only, there’s a few things you need to take on board before you get started.

This short video production usefully summarises most of the things you need to know before pressing the record button; practical considerations like microphone placement, seating, eye contact and non-verbal communication between interviewer and interviewee are discussed here. When using a video camera is being used, it’s useful to understand the most basic principles of picture composition or the effect of framing an interviewee who is seated in front of a window.

The video was produced and presented by Colin Hyde of the East Midlands Oral History Archive which is based at the University of Leicester. It offers some very useful hints and tips designed to help beginners improve their recording of Oral History interviews by pointing out some of the more common pitfalls.

We’ll be adding our own video tutorials to the site shortly, but the above video provides some really good tips on how to get started. We recommend that you take a look.

About Colin 6 Articles
Creator of video-based content since 1970s - shooting and editing video, writing books and articles about it, training others to do it and all that. Experienced in the use of video in social and community settings.