10 Tips for Asking Better Questions to Preserve Memories

50 Journal Prompts for Memoir Writing

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The tips for asking better questions to preserve memories include going beyond yes-or-no questions, focusing on sensory details, asking follow-up questions, tailoring your questions to the person, asking open-ended questions, adding humor, focusing on emotions, being patient and attentive, capturing details in writing, and make it a regular activity.

You can unlock a treasure trove of memories when you hone your questioning skills. Well-crafted questions push people beyond basic facts, prompting them to share vivid details, emotions, and the essence of cherished memories. This improves the strength of your bond and creates a richer tale of the past. Preserving these memories ensures they become treasured stories passed down for generations.

This article will guide you on the 10 tips for asking better questions to preserve memories.

Key Takeaways

  • The 10 tips for asking better questions to preserve memories are to go beyond yes-or-no questions, focus on sensory details, ask follow-up questions, tailor your questions to the person, ask open-ended questions, add humor, focus on emotions, be patient and attentive, capture details in writing, and make it a regular activity.
  • Create questions that will make you give detailed answers, encouraging you to share vivid details, emotions, and your cherished experiences.
  • Use tools like Meminto to jot down the memories from the questions asked.

Tips for Asking Better Questions to Preserve Memories

10 Tips for Asking Better Questions to Preserve Memories

1. Go beyond “yes” or “no” questions

Instead of settling for a simple “yes” or “no” in response to “Did you have a good time?” Try a question that requires you to provide details and a more elaborate answer. 

For example, ask, “What was your favorite part of the day?” or “What made you laugh the most today?”. It will encourage you to relive the experience and share richer details that might not have come up otherwise. 

Compare a one-word answer and a response like “My favorite part of the day was when we built the sandcastle together. We found these cool seashells and decorated it with them. It even had a moat!” The extra details paint a much more vivid picture of the memory and make it more engaging for both the person telling the story and the person listening.

2. Focus on sensory details

Don’t settle for a flat “It was nice” when reminiscing your memories with loved ones. Ask about sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches to bring the memory to life. When you incorporate all five senses, you can create a more immersive and well-rounded memory for the person to share.

3. Ask Follow-up Questions

Don’t easily go with the first answer. Gently nudge the person to explain more with prompts or questions like “Tell me more about that” or “How did that make you feel?”  You can also use specific details from their initial response to craft new questions. 

For example, if they mention a childhood friend, you could ask, “What did you and [friend’s name] like to do together?” or “Can you tell me a funny story about something that happened with [friend’s name]?”  The more you go into the details, the richer and more refined the memories will become.

4. Tailor Your Questions to the Person

Consider their age and interests. You could ask a young child about favorite toys and games or what made them happy or safe. You can delve into friendships, school experiences, or memorable trips as they age. Adults should inquire about turning points, significant achievements, or challenges they overcame. 

You can also tailor your questions to their passions. If someone loved playing sports, ask about their favorite teams, most exciting games, or any injuries they (hopefully) bounced back from. If they were into music, ask about their first concert, favorite bands, or instruments they learned to play.

5. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Rather than solely asking questions anyone can answer with a simple yes or no, try asking questions encouraging people to share stories. For example, you might ask, “Can you describe your favorite childhood adventure?” or “What was a moment you felt really proud of?” These kinds of questions help draw out detailed memories.

6. Add Humor

Funny anecdotes and lighthearted moments can make the conversation enjoyable and jog your memories. Laughter puts people at ease and creates a more relaxed atmosphere, which is excellent when discussing more challenging or emotional memories. 

Sharing a funny story about a similar experience can also be a great way to connect with the person and encourage them to open up and share their memories. Sometimes, a little humor can go a long way toward helping people feel comfortable sharing their stories.

7. Focus on Emotions

Memories are often linked to emotions. Ask how someone felt during a specific event or important moment. Memories connected to strong emotions are more memorable, vivid, and lasting.

8. Be Patient and Attentive

Allow people enough time to remember and share their memories. Often, the most meaningful stories come out when you listen patiently and show that you are genuinely interested. It encourages them to open up and share more.

9. Capture Details in Writing

Take notes during the conversation to capture essential details, phrases, and emotions. Write down the specific questions you want to discuss further during the conversation. 

After the conversation, write a more complete summary while the memories are still fresh. Depending on the depth of the conversation, you can use a short paragraph or a longer narrative. You can also choose to add events, emotions, and the significance behind them.

You can use a tool like Meminto to write down these memories.

10. Make it a Regular Activity

Schedule time for conversations about memories or turn it into a family tradition. Designate a specific time each week or month to sit down and talk about old times. It could be over dinner, during a dedicated “memory hour,” or while working together on a scrapbook or family history project.  You can also create a memory jar. 

Decorate a jar and fill it with slips of paper with questions to help you spark your memory written on it. Pull out a question and take turns answering it whenever you are feeling nostalgic. Regularly engaging in these conversations will help preserve memories, strengthen family bonds, and create new traditions.


Withthese tips, you can ask questions beyond basic facts and encourage people to share emotions, sensory details, and the deeper meaning behind their memories. It will help you create a more vivid and lasting record of your memories.

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