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The Long-Winded Archaeologist

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

I genuinely like archaeology and history. As someone whose job it is to engage the public about the past, I often find myself wondering did I say enough? Did they understand what I was trying to say? Did I say that historical figure or groups’ name correctly?

And most importantly, did I just prove to that person(s) why they did not like history in school?

Sometimes learning about history can be long-winded. You’ve probably heard it all before: “You know, the War of 1812? Well it began in 1812…”. Long-winded-ness is a condition where a historian believe that everyone need to know everything about a topic in history when in fact they do not. So, what can you do to engage the public in a digestible way?

Here is a list of my top 5 suggestions for making history more engaging:

  1. Know the facts. Nothing worse than learning about incorrect history (I think we have enough of that happening already).

  2. It is ok to say, “I don’t know”. And if you are being stared at in disbelief, ask your listeners the following question, “What do you think?”.

  3. Use artifacts. There is something about objects that gets people talking.

  4. Keep your information short.

  5. Tell a story. Storytelling invites people into your world of knowledge. Think about why movies and documentaries do so well – they tell stories.

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