Sunday, 8 May 2011

GeneaBloggers: Attending Genealogy Conferences

From an attendee' perspective what would I like to see in a conference?
First let me say I love conferences, the excitement, anticipation, joys of speaking with like-minded people, finding out new things, suddenly having an A-ha! moment as you realise you may have been given the clue to demolish that brickwall. Finding a new resource at an exhibitors table.Having the uninteruptd time to immerse myself in history:family and social.

These are in no particular order.
  • For it to be organised, this sounds self-evidentary but it can make or break a conference. This includes starting on time, running to time in a session, having enough time between sessions particularly if there is a distance between rooms.
  • Having enough time available to see the exhibitors as well as eating
  • Having access to  break-out room if you want to hold a group meeting eg Guild of One Name Studies
  • Having  a noticeboard/private mail-list  for messages so you can organise to meet-up with people with your interests
  • Having a range of topics at different experience levels (ideally if it is a basic/beginners talk label it as such!)
  • I like to use my laptop or at the least to take notes so like access to a table or chair with flip-up table as used by universities
  • At the last Congress in Auckland we had access to computer labs and had some workshops which were great
  • Having streams/tracks is good. You can also have a beginners/intermediate talk followed by an advanced one on the same theme. You can have say all afternoon on one theme, perhaps with three or four talks
  • I prefer talks at the 45 minute length as it gives a chance to go into depth.
  • Having the conference abstracts on a flash drive is excellent or as a PDF download
  • I would love the ability to buy recordings of presentations particularly of those you can't get to as you have a clash of sessions or you simply couldn't attend the conference.
  • It may be with the increased numbers of genealogy researchers who use the Net and don't join Societies that this is the first social occasion where they meet family historians so it has to be friendly. 
How do I choose which conferences to attend? I always try to get to the big three yearly congress and will be going again in 2012 Congress 2012 and also try to get to a number of smaller day conferences.This year I went on a cruise conference combined and enjoyed it tremendously. I would have loved to have gone on their next one which has an Irish-Scottish theme and is visiting some beautiful New Zealand ports but unfortunately I work full time. Te majority of the conferences are at a fair distance as Australia is a big country. I have done two international conferences but they took a lot of planning and money and maybe in the future.

What do I see happening in the future?
I see more presentations at the conference being done as webinars.

Maybe more workshops before the conference maybe at an extra cost (this occurs in a number of my Microbiology conferences and they get a good attendance)

I'd foresee see more hand's-on workshops by vendors with their new products and from what I have heard this was very successful at RootsTech. Having a computer lab set-up for workshops with the cost shared by a number of vendors could be practical.

Definitely see more Blogs and Tweets (and social media currently unthought of!) about the Conference. I see this happening as a major promotion before the conference, during the conference and also after the conference.
It would be nice for the presenters if you happen to break down that brick wall becasue of something you heard that .you then tell the world the benefit of conferences.

After thinking about this I want to go right NOW!