Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflections - Fun North of the 44th Parallel

I can't begin to tell you how much fun I had up in Calgary, Alberta this past weekend! And how blessed I am to be able to work - speaking about genealogy and sharing my insights with other genealogists - and have fun at the same time.

While the day trip up to Banff was filled with great scenery and a chance to talk with the other speakers at the Family Roots Seminar, I was really looking forward to Saturday when the seminar actually started. I won't describe the event blow by blow, Joan Miller of the Alberta Family Histories Society has already done a great job over at the AFHS blog. But here are my insights on the event and the weekend:
  • The event was well attended and in my estimation (using a visual headcount) there were about 150 attendees.  I overheard from the organizers that there were many walk-ins and many non-AFHS members in attendance.  What a great opportunity to convert them to members and bring them into the society!
  • If speaking at a genealogy event and especially a one-day workshop with multiple speakers, take the time to attend the presentations given by your colleagues.  I learned not only some good genealogy tips from both Dick Eastman and Lyn Meehan, but also I was able to witness different presentation styles and techniques.
  • Folks are starving for quality genealogy education.  This has been evident to me all year as I've either spoken at various venues or I've attended genealogy conferences.  The education element of genealogy will be an expanding component of the industry for years to come.  As a vendor or society you can provide all the records and databases in the world but they won't mean much if researchers - especially those new to genealogy - don't know how to access and interpret them.
  • In addition, the new genealogists and family historians also see the value of a "genealogy experience." Often they are the only ones in the family performing such research and taking a keen interest. So when they attend an event with others who might be just as "addicted" to genealogy, you have to provide opportunities to network and interact.  AFHS' event did this with a long lunch break and a dinner later that evening.
  • I confirmed something I already knew - I sleep just as poorly on the road as I do at home.  Oh well, it means I can be more productive, right?
  • The types of questions from participants are the same at almost every venue: concern about privacy issues especially on Facebook; desire to learn more technology to expand the genealogy experience; and a need for more how-tos and cheat sheets on what some seasoned genealogists see as basic processes.
As I get ready to pass the 12,000 miles flown mark for the month of October on a trip to Salt Lake City tomorrow, my speaking tour has reinforced something I already knew: as tired as I might be from the travel,

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


AFHS Blog said...

Thomas - it was our pleasure! I hope you saw my comment at the end of the AFHS post in a P.S. to you :)

Thanks so much for coming all the way here to speak!

--Joan Miller
AFHS PR Committee

Anonymous said...

Your Banff trip looked like fun :-) but I'm glad it's not snowing here (yet). I think networking time is really important as there's always some "work" to get on with, and people that you wanted to speak to either have something to do, or you do. Thanks for your great PDF thru Lulu "Approaching the Lectern" - I've my first BIG Talk on the 30th and it has helped so much (confidence still up and down!). Hope you get a better-than-usual-sleep in SLC, or at least good-as-usual :-) Jo