Wednesday, September 2, 2020

From the Archives - Pointers for Presenters

With all the news about RootstechConnect flooding the geneasphere I remembered this post written in  2010 and offer it to those who are taking to a genealogy stage. I feel that the points I covered are applicable to virtual as well as face to face presentations. As it's ten years since my original post I have added some further comments to the list in Purple.

What would you add to the list?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pointers for Presenters

Having retired from the world of education I now have some time to devote to my hobby/passion for family history. 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. Some of the genealogy presenters I have seen could do well to watch and learn from the presentations I have seen given by Australian students in our schools.

Having knowledge of a subject does not qualify one as a competent and engaging presenter.

Prompted by Thomas MacEntee's announcement that he has published a book " Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker"  I have decided to make a few suggestions for Australian speakers. Each of these points could have helped one or some of the speakers I have heard recently.
  • Update your knowledge of the topic
  • Know your subject well enough so that you will not need to read your presentation
  • Get prior information on your audience 
  • Be prepared, have backups of your presentation
  • Prepare a handout or disk for distribution to participants or provide links to the presentation on the internet
  • Practice your talk in front of a trusted and honest friend or colleague and use their feedback to polish your work
  • Maintain regular contact with the hosting organisation
  • Dress appropriately for the situation 
  • Arrive early and check setup

  • Set the scene by giving some background information on yourself
  • Turn the camera on yourself prior to starting your presentation - attendees like to put a face to a name
  • State the rules of the game - Are you happy to be interrupted or do you want people to keep questions to the end? Do you allow attendees to take screenshots of your slides?
  • Start with an overview of the presentation's content - Outline your goals for the gig
  • Display enthusiasm or passion for your subject
  • 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
  • Speak clearly, coherently and with animation - Engage your audience through good communication
  • Keep your um count low - use pauses rather then ums
  • Avoid Death by Powerpoint - You are the presenter
  • Use original, relevant images to make your points
  • Keep text on slides to a few pithy points
  • There is no need to read the text on your slides - Most of your attendees can read for themselves
  • 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
  • Maintain eye contact - Look at the camera
  • Involve your audience - Ask them questions, get them to comment on a photo or artefact
  • When showing internet sites connect to the site - avoid screenshots - use them as backups for times of technology failure 
  • 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

  • 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


ScotSue said...

You have given us such an excellent set of guidelines, Jill, that should be followed by every public speaker. One of the worst speakers I have heard was a former history teacher on the First World War. He was speaking to a general audience, mainly women and all we got was a series of PowerPoint slides on the four years of battles and the casualties on each side - nothing on the humanity of war, the stories of bravery, heartache, the conditions the troops lived and fought in. Yes, he knew his subject, but did not tailor it to his audience. Thank you for your reminder on how we should give a presentation, and your points have stood the test of time.

Kerrie Anne Christian said...

thanks for sharing - a great lot of suggestions


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