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  • Writer's pictureDuncan


Updated: Jun 26, 2023

When thinking about what you want to communicate in a legacy video it’s important to note that there are two key components. The first is easy: Be Yourself. The second - Tell a Good Story - is also quite easy with a bit of forethought.

Photo of woman by Anthony Metcalfe on Unsplash


The first and easiest goal is to simply be yourself and thus record what it is like to be in your presence. Photographs and, though less common, audio recordings are the primary way in which we remember someone no longer in our lives. While these become treasured keepsakes they’re remarkably flat when compared to the medium of video.

With video biographies, we get the visual benefit of a photograph but with the added dimensions of sound and movement. A photo doesn’t communicate how someone formed their thoughts or the words they chose. It’s a rare photo that can communicate someone’s understated humor or their room-filling laughter. With video, you simply need to show up and be you.

While some view a legacy video or personal documentary as an opportunity to present an idealized vision of themselves the most effective pieces tend to be the ones that reflect the truth you’ve developed over your life.


I say that knowing that some who read it will be daunted by it. “I’m not a storyteller”, “There is nothing interesting about my life”, “I don’t know where to begin” are all fairly common objections I hear when someone is asked about participating in a legacy project.

In brief, the answers to those objections are respectively: “You don’t need to be”, “Patently not true”, “Pick an item from a list”


When filming a legacy video, you don’t need to be a “storyteller” all you need to do is tell me the story. Often the things we talk about during our time together are things that only you know the details of. A primary goal of a KnowMe session is to document those details.

For stories that others know your relation of those details will spark their memories and they’ll fill in whatever gaps might be present in your story-telling. My job is to assist and guide that process but, frankly, all I typically need to be is an engaged conversationalist.

All that said… you’ll surprise yourself. My experience is that most people find themselves to be quite good storytellers once they start telling a new acquaintance about “this one time…”


When asking people to talk about their lives I’ll frequently get a “there is nothing interesting to talk about in my life” response. My observation is that this is due to one of two things: a trained humility response or an honest “the grass is always greener” response where people believe that while their story might be interesting it is never as interesting as others.

I believe both of these responses to be earnest but easily countered. My follow-up to such a statement is “do you think your loved ones would agree?” It isn’t difficult to argue that our loved ones are our loved ones because our lives are interesting to them.

Ultimately, it is for them that we make a legacy video. For most, a legacy video isn’t an act of ego. It is because we know that by sharing ourselves and our truths we can continue to help those that we love and have committed our lives to. We tell our stories not out of self-love but love for others. Your story is compelling, it is of value to others, and it needs to be told.


Where to start? Quickly think of the following items: my story, my family story, my ancestors, my career, my passion. If you don’t know where to start, any of those will make for a compelling legacy story. Most likely that list sparked several thoughts about where you might start. Is there one that stands out above the others?

Of course, there are other considerations. Perhaps there is an area that your family would like you to focus on - the origins of favorite family traditions for instance or stories about your parents. Two things to consider:

  • This is your story. Strike a balance between your family’s desires and yours but know that, ultimately, it is your story to tell.

  • The truth is your loved ones will be grateful for any legacy you leave them. If it is honest and true to you they will cherish it.

Three hours may seem like a remarkably long time for an interview but when compared to the number of hours we’ve lived? Covering too much territory during an interview produces a legacy story that tends to be too shallow and risks being disjointed and rambling. Do not feel pressured to cover your entire life. It is not uncommon for clients to hire KnowMe to return to capture other areas of their story.

Take the area you’ve decided to focus on and put some thought into the key aspects you’d like to communicate. Your job here is not to reflect deeply on these for fear of “rehearsing” them. Simply note down ideas or people or a phrase that will remind you of a story you want to cover. Pass those along to KnowMe so that we can help track them during the session and ensure that we cover them.

I want to reiterate that last point. Most likely, your loved ones aren’t interested in a scripted film because you don’t go through life in a scripted manner. If you think too deeply on these topics in the planning process you run the risk of inadvertently “rehearsing” them. The most effective and fulfilling legacy videos are spontaneously delivered - considered and focused - but delivered in the present moment.


Tell a good story - your story:

  • You just have to tell me your story

  • Your story is compelling

  • Some focusing and narrowing will produce a more effective telling


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