Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tips for Genealogy Event Hosts

My recent post Tips for Genealogy Presenters was well received so I am reposting another oldie. I must confess that having read my tips I need to lift my game.

Tips for Genealogy Event Hosts


Over the last eighteen months I have  attended and presented at a number of seminars and talks on genealogy and related subjects. Some events have been well organised with thoughtfulness displayed by the organisers. Sadly, I have witnessed instances where speakers have not been treated with the respect one should accord a visitor. Organisers of genealogy events have a responsibility to their speakers and audiences.
These tips may help with event organisation:

Before the Event

  • Liaise with the presenter before the event to ensure that you share similar expectations for the event.
  • Confirm event details in writing, email is appropriate in the 21st century and give presenter contact details of the organiser
  • Prepare and distribute marketing/advertising materials that accurately reflect the content and level.
  • Ascertain what the speaker's technical requirements and organise prior to the event.
  • Provide a map to venue and organise a parking spot for the presenter.
  • If possible provide the speaker with details about audience - number of attendees, level of knowledge etc.
  • If there are multiple presentations on a day allow ample time for room changes and refreshment breaks.
  • Contact the presenter a few days before the event to address any questions he/she may have
  • Offer to photocopy handouts. 
  • Arrange for distribution and collection of evaluation forms with presenter.
  • Make arrangements to record or video the event.
  • Check the technology setup on the day prior to the event.

On the Day
  • Be on hand to welcome the presenter or allocate this duty to another person.
  • Have a trolley on hand to assist with the movement of bulky items.
  • Assist the presenter with setup - Each venue is unique and foreign to the presenter.
  • Have water available for the presenter.
  • Discuss time management ie windup warnings with the presenter. 
  • Nominate someone do an introduction and short bio of the presenter.
  • Allow time for housekeeping - Give details of restrooms, food availability before the presenter takes the stage.
  • Ensure that someone from the organising body remains in the room during the talk.
  • Ensure that the presenter gets the full time allocated to the presentation - A lot of effort goes into planning - Cutting a presentation short is plain bad manners.
  • Have someone propose a vote of thanks at the conclusion of the talk.
  • If the speaker is a volunteer consider a small token of appreciation eg a book, petrol voucher, flowers.

  • Assist with collection of evaluation forms.
  • Follow up with a letter of thanks - Useful for the presenter's portfolio.
  • Share the results of any evaluation with the presenter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pleased with Purchase

A while ago I blogged about a book by Janet Few that I had borrowed from Hornsby Library. I was lucky enough to purchase a copy from SoG on my recent trip to the UK. Having perused this book once more I can confirm that it is an excellent addition to my genealibrary.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What sort of genealogist am I?

Thomas MacEntee wrote quite some time ago about Careers in Genealogy.  My mate, Randy Seaver examined his genealogy career according to the categories outlined by Thomas in his post and suggested another category of Genealogy Evangelist.

I am taking a leaf out of Randy's book and conducting a self-examination with Thomas's categories.

  • Researcher: The most traditional of genealogy careers. Yes I am a researcher on a personal level and have been one since 1988 when I started delving into my family history. I find that I am often called on to give advice to friends and friends of friends.
  • Author: Someone who writes about various aspects of genealogy and family history, from magazine articles to books. As a blogger for myself and two societies I am an author, I have also penned several articles for Inside History and other magazines, I write a regular column for The Surname Society.
  • Educator: With almost any industry or field, people who are new will want to learn how to perform certain tasks. As a former teacher I love going back into teacher mode at genealogy events and online in Google hangouts. I enjoy giving on on one help to friends and fellow family history group members.
  • Curator: Last year I spoke of the power of the “curator” and the concept of a curator seems to have gained traction.  I don't think this label fits me.
  • Archivist: Many repositories have staff with a genealogy background who work to preserve artifacts, documents and the like so that researchers can better understand them and have access to them. I am the family archivist.
  • Librarian: There are quite a few genealogists with their library science degrees and backgrounds who work for genealogical libraries as well as other types of libraries. I had a long career as a librarian and apply my skills and experience to my genealogy practices.
  • Analyst: With any growing industry (the genealogy industry in my opinion is growing), there is a need for people to analyze various data points including demographics, buying habits, etc. 
  • Marketer: Another growth area in the genealogy industry especially when it comes to social media. I've no need to get into marketing.
  • Retailer: Just look at any genealogy conference or expo and you’ll see booksellers, craftspeople selling their handmade goods related to family history, and more. Family History is a hobby - I've nothing to sell but lots to share.
I hope that I am a Genealogy Evangelist like Randy. I love spreading the good words about genealogy.

What sort of genealogist are you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Will I see you at Rootstech?

Qantas recently announced the reintroduction of direct flights from Sydney to San Francisco so I hopped on the internet this morning to see if I could spend my Frequent Flyer points on a return flight that would land me in the US within cooee of Salt Lake City.

BINGO! I managed to get a booking - now I just need to organise some internal flights, accommodation in Salt Lake City and then in San Francisco for some retail therapy prior to returning to Australia. I'm hoping the Rootstech people publish accommodation details on therie website soon.

I'm wondering which of my genimates will be joining me at Rootstech 2016.

Genimates at Rootstech 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Daphne Edith Williamena Gillespie

If my mother-in-law, Daphne, was still with us she would be 95 years old today. 

The following clipping saved in a notebook by Daphne's mother, Eliza Anne Gowans, describes how Daphne got her name.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Behind the white fence... a cemetery in New Orleans I saw this statue which our tour guide told us was the grave of  Jeanne Jugan Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

When I was a lot younger I used to pass the imposing buildings at Randwick that belonged to The Little Sisters of the Poor. I was therefore quite interested when I saw this "grave".

As is the case with many things in genealogy it pays to check on one's sources.I found a couple of sources that indicated that Jeanne was buried in France. An entry on FindaGrave included a photo of her grave,

The moral of this tale is always check your sources and be wary of tour guides' stories.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I wanted more

In spite of the tiny font size I enjoyed Janet Few's booklet 'Til death us do part: causes of death 1300-1948.

I read this little publication in less than half an hour and found the content most interesting and illuminating. I wanted more! I hope Janet considers expanding what is an excellent precis into a longer and more detailed text some time soon. I have several of Janet's books in my collection and have enjoyed them all; her writing is clear and she explains things well. The English bias didn't bother me because my ancestors all hailed from the British Isles.

$AU10 seems like a hefty price for this little product which is worthy of reading. I suggest that you do as I did and borrow it from your local library.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tips for Genealogy Presenters

I have been notified that someone is sharing a page I posted on Weebly a few years ago when I was playing with that platform (reminder tto GeniAus - ake the old site down).

As I think what I wrote is still pertinent I am sharing it here:

Tips for Genealogy Presenters


My commitment to CGD exposes me to a range of presenters. Over the last eighteen months I have  attended a number of seminars and talks on genealogy and related subjects. Some presenters have been excellent and some have been downright woeful. In a blog post in 2010 I made some suggestions that may assist presenters at genealogy events. I am updating that here.
I have also suggested that Keynote Speakers should Inspire, Challenge, Educate, Engage, Entertain and Inform but believe that all speakers should aim to do more than one of these in each presentation.
Having knowledge of a subject does not qualify one as a competent and engaging presenter.

Each of these points could have helped one or some of the speakers I have heard recently.  

Before the Event
  • Update your knowledge of the topic
  • Get prior information on your audience 
  • Liaise with the host before the event to ensure that you share similar expectations for the event.
  • Be prepared for technology failure with a backup plan. Save copies of your presentation on the internet, a thumb drive, a CD. Have some printed notes for reference in case of complete tech failure.
  • Ensure that marketing/advertising materials accurately reflect the content and level of your talk.
  • Practice your talk in front of a trusted and honest friend or colleague and use their feedback to polish your work
  • Make sure that you have enough content/slides to fill the allotted time. 
  • Maintain regular contact with the hosting organisation.
  • Prepare a handout or disk for distribution to participants or provide links to the presentation on the internet
  • Dress appropriately for the situation 
  • Arrive early and check the setup
  • If you will be using the internet visit the sites you intend to show on the presentation computer  before the talk so that they are cached on your hard drive and quickly retrieved. 

During the Event
  • Ascertain if audience members have auditory or visual issues and try to accommodate their needs.
  • Set the scene by giving some background information on yourself
  • Ask a few of the attendees: Why are you here? or What do you hope to get out of today's presentation?"
  • If it's a small group or an all day seminar invest a few minutes in finding out something about each person in the group.
  • State the rules of the game - Are you happy to be interrupted or do you want people to keep questions to the end? Can people record your talk? Can they take photographs?
  • I shouldn't have to say this -  Never, ever read a prepared speech word for word
  • Start with an overview of the presentation's content - Outline your goals for the gig
  • State your relationship to products being demonstrated - Some talks are thinly veiled marketing exercises/infomercials - Be honest and upfront about your connections to vendors/products
  • Display enthusiasm or passion for your subject
  • Establish and maintain eye contact with the audience 
  • Speak clearly, coherently and with animation - Engage your audience through good communciation
  • Avoid Death by Powerpoint - You are the presenter and the focus
  • Remember the people at the back of the room - Use a large (30point+) font on your slides)
  • Smiles are free - Use them liberally
  • Sprinkle your talk with anecdotes and analogies - But don't overdo it
  • Use visual aids and artefacts to embellish your talk - Cater for individual learning styles of participants
  • Pepper your talk with questions. Pose a question or problem and give the attendees a minute or two to discuss it with their neighbour. Ask a few to share their thoughts.
  • Graciously accept all contributions to the conversation. Avoid putdowns.
  • Always take a question - if is too complex to be answered immediately put it on a 'parking lot' list to be answered at the end of the presentation
  • When showing internet sites connect to the site - avoid screenshots - use these as backups for times of technology failure 
  • When quoting a URL have an accompanying slide in large font or have a word processing doc opened in the background into which you can quickly tyre the URL
  • When talking about software - Accompany with a live demonstration
  • Be honest - If you don't know the answer to a question say so  
  • There may be experts in your audience who can add value to the event - Accept their comments graciously
  • Provide handouts in hard copy or provide a link to a site where a soft copy can be found.
  • Reiterate your goals at the end of the talk 

  • Invite feedback via a printed or online feedback form - Offer a prize draw for completed forms
  • Set aside some time to talk to audience members individually after talk
  • Provide contact details for audience followup 
  • Use audience feedback to amend and polish your presentation for next time

Please, genealogy presenters, recognise that learning is a collaborative exercise. Involve your students. You can learn from them and give them and yourselves a richer learning experience. Updated 12/4/2012

Thursday, July 2, 2015


As I prepare to make flight bookings for my journey back to Salt Lake City for Rootstech 2016 I am thinking about the folk I will meet there.

I have been doing family history for 27 years and am still an amateur. For me it is not an academic pursuit but a fun albeit serious hobby. Joynealogy, the title of a genealogy blog I follow (, also describes the feelings of elation I get from my genealogy activities. It is a feel good  pursuit that fills me with joy whenever I make a new discovery or teach a group, friend or contact new new trick or tool.

I regularly speak or attend talks and meetings at local societies. Most of the people I encounter at these events are there because they too experience Joynealogy. I have been to four out of five Rootstechs, the greatest genie show on earth, and love these events mainly for the people that I meet from the old pros, to enthusiastic youngsters and beginners of all ages.

Most of the people who attend Rootstech or grassroots events at local societies are amateurs like me. They want to learn how to find their ancestors but do not worry about the correct way to cite a source, they just record enough detail to lead someone else to find that source. They will never bother with  Proof Arguments. Their methods of organisation may be haphazard like mine but they are having fun while learning about their ancestors, recording their lives for posterity and sharing their stories. Their  methodology may be unique like mine (not adhering to one of those fat expensive texts) and supported by information skills developed during years of life, work and tertiary study.

I think that more of the 22,000 people who crowded into the exhibition hall at Rootstech on the Saturday  were amateurs like me and probably not (unlike me) society members. They were there for a hit of Joynealogy.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...