Chris Burnett believes everyone has a narrative worth telling. Since October 2020 he has been intentionally reconnecting and recording ‘podcasts’ with his family and friends about their stories. Here, Chris provides encouragement and a guide to chat with your loved ones about their life and your relationship.

Chris is the author of Conversations: Connecting With People In Our Lives


Guest Blog post by Chris Burnett 

Born out of the lockdowns of 2020 and a time of disconnection, I started a personal project as a way of reigniting connections with people in my life. I wanted to reconnect with people I hadn’t talked with for a while. What began with having a catch-up call a week with someone I hadn’t heard from in a while, evolved into me going full Louis Theroux and interviewing my family and friends about their lives and our relationship.

To date, I’ve recorded 75 conversations with people in my life. You can think of them like ‘podcasts’, except the recordings remain between me and the person I’m chatting with. No need for redos, editing or considering an audience.

Afterwards, I share the audio file with the person I chat to so they can listen back whenever they’d like. Partially so they can enjoy reliving the conversation, but predominantly so they know the material I possess if I ever need to blackmail them. So far, only a few people have listened, while most have said they’ll either come back to it years down the line or would cringe too much at their own voice to ever contemplate hitting play. 

Before the recording gets underway, I mention the structure, reiterate the fact the recording is just between us, and make it clear that we’ll skip by anything they don’t want to talk about. I kick off each conversation with the date, our location(s), and a reminder of how long we’ve known each other – which is typically met with a groan and “gee we’re old”.

The conversation then follows three distinct parts.

Part 1

In ‘Part One’, I ask them questions about their life. From the chronology of childhood, schooling and career, to chats about international experiences, people, relationships, hardship and miscellaneous topics and tales. There are so many interesting facets to your loved ones’ life that will captivate, charm and surprise you.

Part 2

In ‘Part Two’, we exchange three words we’d use to describe one another. It’s a way to spread positive vibes, show appreciation, and make someone you care for feel great about themselves.

Part 3

In ‘Part Three’, we take a trip down memory lane, recalling shared experiences. It’s that “do you remember when?” conversation you have with mates down the pub, back to back to back. By recording your journey down memory lane, you’ll end up with a special bank of laughs at your fingertips for whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Everyone gets set a bit of homework to make notes for Part Two and Part Three beforehand, so it’s not just off the cuff, which I also do for each person.

It’ll be an enriching experience for both of you that brings you closer together.

I’ve learnt a lot about those I love, myself and the world. Hearing mates regale stories of their questionable and bizarre antics has been hugely entertaining. People have shared wisdom and opened up to me about hardship they’ve experienced. My own memories have been vividly unlocked. I’ve laughed, cried, and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for those I have in my life. The interviewees themselves have unanimously given the thumbs up to enjoying the experience from their end too.

Recording the conversation provides a pretty special keepsake that captures someone’s story and your relationship with them at a point in time. You’re able to hear their voice whenever you want.

Timelines, affirmations, memories. A simple structure that produces a lot of depth.

The beauty is how easy it would be for you to do something similar yourself.

You don’t need to interview everyone and their dog. Start with one conversation and a few questions.

Swap drinks and chatting in the pub, to drinks and reminiscing at home with your best mate. Instead of going out for dinner, plan date night with your partner around having a long chat sharing stories. Next time you visit an older relative, phone ahead and ask if it’d be okay to ask them questions about their life.

You can download my script with a full list of questions, the structure and advice on any issues you might encounter over on my website.

We all have a narrative worth telling. It’s time we gave each other the opportunity to share it.

Over to you.

Some of Chris' favourite prompts

Conversation Prompts

Chris’ book ‘conversations: connecting with people in our lives’ shares more of his story and tales from the conversations he has recorded so far. It’s out and available on Amazon as a paperback and eBook now. Buy it here.

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