Genealogy may be an exciting topic for some, but for others, something about talking about family history and especially genealogical research brings on heavy eyelids, head nods, and maybe even eye rolls. If you want to keep your genealogy interesting and exciting, you need to approach it a bit differently and with a little strategy.
While your genealogical research journey may be incredibly interesting and exciting to you, those you’re talking to might not feel the same way. Make sure, as you’re talking to your family about your family’s history and heritage, that you’re talking about the stories of your ancestors and not about your research. As exciting as breaking down that brick wall was for you, your cousin that’s not “into” genealogy might not find it all that exciting. Avoid being tuned out and stick to telling stories about your forefathers instead of your research.
On a similar note, don’t exclude or deprive others of hearing your findings just because they’re not interested in the research it took to get there. It’s likely most of your family members, especially the adults, want to hear your family’s stories.
Some people like to learn things by experiencing them. If you have some kinesthetic learners on your hands, consider taking a road trip or a trip across seas, depending on how far back in your family line we’re talking. Visiting towns, cemeteries, family members that still live there, or homes where people grew up make for exciting moments and memories that will last for years. These meaningful places are special and should be shared. If there’s a story set at a specific place you can visit, go there and share the story. For some, actually being there really sets the tone and the background for the story.
Make sure you stay relevant to the person/people you’re talking to. Your sports-obsessed 13-year-old nephew might not be interested in hearing about how your Great Great Great Grandmother’s made her own wedding dress. However, they probably are interested in learning that Great Grand Dad John loved baseball too and met the amazing Babe Ruth and got to shake his hand! Knowing your audience, what they’re interested in — and, more importantly, what they’re not interested in—and sticking with related stories will put you on the road to success.
When sharing information about your past relatives, stick to a specific moment or period in their lives, rather than sharing their entire life and stories. You’ll have greater success keeping your audience’s attention if you stick to moments, not entire lives. Another way to keep your audience’s attention is to include pictures and any relevant heirlooms you may have. Objects, such as old photos and heirlooms, help the stories come to life and feel real.
The key to success is to remember that not everyone is interested in the research it took to find these stories, but the stories themselves. Sticking to the stories and the meat of your findings should make genealogy interesting for just about everyone.