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.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Six GBP for Online Membership - I'm in

I'm thinking about my Bucks ancestors today. John Tucker, a butcher from Datchet, was transported to Australia in 1824 per Hercules II. Jon's parents and siblings were butchers in Datchet until the mid 1850s. I'd love to be able to find more information on John and his family so thought I'd plan for a visit to the Bucks FHS in the future.

I wondered if I should join this Society so I checked out their various membership catagories.  I found something there that appealed to me, On-line Membership until 31 Dec 2015 ; "On-line membership will give you access to the members only sections of the Society website and the right to attend meetings and vote at the AGM. You will not receive copies of Origins, the Society magazine by post but will be able to read/download a copy on-line in the members only section of the website". 

This category of membership is less than half the cost of overseas membership - I can do without printed magazines to save 8 GBP Pounds on the membership subscription.

What a great idea this is! For just 6 GBP I can check the Society's online databases to see if they have any Tucker leads for me to follow.

Family History Societies that have local databases available online could follow Bucks FHS and offer a new category of online membership  tht would attract genies like me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Thinking of my Dad, Allan John Curry, today on what would have been his 96th birthday.

With Dad on my wedding day

Allan John Curry 1919-2001


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