Thursday, 5 May 2011

Genealogy Conferences - Delivering the Content

I enjoy presenting ( friends have mentioned something about talking and wet cement<G>). I especially enjoy sharing information on my topics with an interested audience. 

Before you get to the point of giving the presentation a lot of things have to have happened on your side:


  • You have developed a specialist knowledge of field of interest maybe a specific repository, range of records, FH program or technology. Usually it takes a number of years to develop this expertise. 

  • You have spent 20-30 hours putting together a one hour presentation. 

  • I use Powerpoint with a plain background. 

  • It is important that the presentation can be seen in both a bright room as well as a darkened room, be careful in choice of colours and fonts, remember your audience. Look at other presentations critically, what do you like/dislike about the actual presentation, fonts, colour, amount of information on each slide?

  • A presentation is not the time to be 'clever' about how many fonts, special effects you can use on one slide. In fact I would rarely use special effects because they can become distracting and even boring very quickly and if anything will go wrong during the presentation this will be it.

  • I take my own computer, projector, extension lead and powerboard so if there is an issue with the audiovisual equipment you have options (ideally always be there a while prior to the presentation so you can set your equipment up if required).

Speaker Topics
  • Have a list of topics available, on a web page is good (with up to date contact details!)
  • Are you able/prepared to travel? How far and when?
  • Can you speak at nights or weekends only?

Communication with the conference organisers
  • Which topic?
  • Are you the only speaker?
  • Is it a themed conference ie is there any crossover on your topic?
  • Do they want a presentation aimed at a beginner, or experienced researcher?
  • What is their desired presentation length? Are you able to accommodate this?
The more you communicate the less surprises occur on the day.


For other speaker points of view I recommend reading these excellent posts by  Judy, Randy  and Thomas


There will be continue to be changes in genealogical presentations. I see a lot more webinars in the future, either attended by individuals or where a society meeting attendees log in,  is due to increased travel costs and conference orgainsation costs, along with the difficulty of getting volunteers to organise these conferences. 

Another issue is the busyness of modern life. The ability to attend lectures at any time you have free because more presentations will be available for download or on CD (for a fee) will be a major plus (a lot of my best research has been done at 1am!).

The Internet has enabled a lot more self-directed learning so online courses with oral presentations as many people learn better hearing as well as seeing key points. There will also be many more podcasts available, ideal for listening while you drive or do your daily walk/run.

 Due to the Internet these presentations are available to a worldwide audience.


Being a speaker is very rewarding  in that you are speaking on a topic that excites you to an audience who wants to hear what you have to say and are enthusiastic and involved.