Friday, February 21, 2014

Mixing it up - Effective Presentations

I should have had it recorded or videoed!

Several months ago after Thomas MacEntee, Pauleen Cass and probably some others blogged  about Ethical Dilemmas facing genealogists I pitched the idea of having a panel session on that topic on the program for the 4th Unlock the Past Genealogy cruise. Alan Phillips liked the idea and added it to the program.

My role was quite simple really, I had to think up a few questions/problems, invite some panelists to join the panel, put together a bit of a powerpoint and moderate the session. The panelists I invited were Mixing it up - Effective from my social media contacts that I knew would be on the cruise; from the work they do in the genealogy world I knew that they were top-notch solid performers. I was thrilled that Pauleen Cass, Kirsty Gray and Maria Northcote agreed to join me as panelists.

Kirsty, Pauleen, Jill, Maria
I am just kicking myself that I didn't record the session as I would love the opportunity to sit quietly, listen and mull over the contributions made by the panelists. As I was busy watching the clock and being nervous I wasn't able to concentrate on the session content  as fully as I would have liked. A recording of the session would have been a useful resource for sharing with the wider genealogical community.

After the session I received many compliments,  this was due to the quality of the panelists and the format of the presentation which allowed panelists to bounce ideas off each other. I encouraged some audience interaction during the session and that gave more people opportunities to add to the conversation.

I believe that at such events we need more interactive sessions and more opportunities for group participation than that offered by the lecture or "chalk and talk" format. Someone said to me in an email I received after the panel session " I particularly enjoy conference sessions when there is a bit of interaction so the more sessions like the panel type session, the better."

I realise that "the sage on the stage" approach is necessary when an expert has new knowledge or information to impart but it would be refreshing if conference or event organisers could mix up the type of sessions on offer. Our individual learning styles need to be accommodated.

By adding in more panel sessions, Q&A sessions with an expert and moderator, hands-on workshops (BYOD), poster sessions, sharing circles, jigsaw groups and team games eg Genealogy Trivia a program can be made more interesting. The Bingo method that was used so effectively by Maria Northcote in her podcasts session on the cruise kept the audience engaged and on their toes throughout the talk (and it was fun).

So how about it organisers of genealogy events? 
When you are programming your next event try to add a little bit of variety.


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Jill, it was a pleasure to be involved with the panel -we'd probably be pleased to hear what words we'd sprouted too ;-)

Given how different we can all be when it comes to family history, it was interesting how "on the same page" we all were. While we'd seen the questions we'd had no communication or interchange on our responses so it says a lot that we largely took similar perspectives.

Totally agree about mixing up the format of events away from "sage on the stage" etc...definitely valuable to have those, but great to have the dialogue that comes from things like the panels or the geneareaders circles.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Jill, I didn't say that any nervousness was not apparent -even to the panel. Thank you for inviting me (and the others) to participate in the ethics discussion!

Randy Seaver said...

I would have loved to have seen this in person.

Why don't the four of you reprise this with a Hangout On Air that can be watched on YouTube? You could ask the same questions and perhaps get the same, or different, answers. The panelists may have thought of a better or more complete answer than the first time around.

Jenny Mackay said...

I love the interactive workshops. Although I like listening to a speaker, unless it's entertaining as well, it can be hard to concentrate at times. I was only thinking how great interaction was when I was watching one of the RootsTech conference speakers in Lisa Louise Cook. Her presentation on the iPad was hands on to a degree and interactive with audience participation.
Wish I'd been on the cruise, would love to have met you Jill and Maria, whose podcasts I've only stumbled upon recently and found them so informative.

Maria said...

Jill, it was such fun to be involved in the panel with you as the "guide on the side". The comments from the audience really made us think about the topics on different levels. Great stuff.


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