Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reflections - A Successful Speaking Engagement

Most of October - which is Family History Month - I am on the road at various speaking engagements around the United States and Canada.  I think I am actually out of town more than I am at home for most of the month.

While time is scarce, I have been thinking about my recent speaking engagement at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society this past weekend and what made it so successful.

First, the event was a home run not so much because of my speaking and presentation skills (which, by the way, have been honed by almost 25 years as a technical trainer in the classroom environment). This was a group effort with many contributions from the EWGS members who helped in many ways including securing my services, arranging accommodations, preparing publicity and more.

Second, EWGS was willing to take a chance.  Not so much a chance on me - I was a known quantity to several EWGS members plus I had already built up a reputation as a well-known genealogy speaker. EWGS took a chance on the fact that a focus on technology and more specifically social media and its role in genealogy would be of interest to its members. I can see how there would be some hesitation especially in populating a full day's agenda of talks on subjects such as Facebook and blogs.

From the feedback received - both via email and in blog post comments, several of the attendees were there to show support for an EWGS event but went away getting hooked on the technology used.

I also gave a presentation on Friday evening with the topic of Building a Research Toolbox.  Over the course of 90 minutes, I showed off various ways to organize links to favorite research websites and various containers for them including note taking applications, wikis and more. I expected many of the attendees to be overwhelmed by the amount of technology capable of handing organization of website links. But in reality, what I saw more than glazed-over eyes were fully-engaged faces and eyes with a busy brain spinning away.

By the end of the workshop on Saturday, you could just tell that many were excited to get started on setting up their own research toolbox or their own blog or even their own Facebook account.  What EWGS did this past weekend was a hands-down success due to lots of hard work from volunteers but also being open to new ideas, new approaches, and the willingness to shake things up and try something different.

Finally, I also had a great but all-too-brief visit with my friend and fellow genealogy blogger Miriam Robbins Midkiff of AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors. I look forward to seeing Miriam and many other genealogy bloggers at my upcoming appearances and I also hope to work with the fine people at EWGS again in the future.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Midge Frazel said...

Your mom would be proud of your determination to be the best. I hope you are coming to NERGC.

Marian Pierre-Louis said...

I am very happy that you're sharing these comments and that technology based talks were received so well. I think we will be seeing an increased demand for technology talks across the board in the future.

Charles Hansen said...

Thomas I did enjoy the talks you did for EWGS, and while I have been a blogger for a couple of years and still one of the team bloggers for the EWGS blog. The Facebook talk was actually my favorite, with the Google docs probably the second. I also was asked by another genealogical society to review you and your talks as they have you on their short list of future speakers, so you might be back in the northwest.

Jen said...

That is fantastic you didn't see glazed eyes, but busy brain spinning happening. I think that speaks to how well you present your information too. When there is a lot of new information to process, I think it helps to have a presenter who is lively, humorous, knowledgeable, and very engaging. If they are not, then I know the wheels would not be spinning so much. Way to go Thomas!