Boring Speakers Talk For Longer

As I prepare for my talk – “Tips for Improving Your Genealogical Lecturing Skills” to be given at the Professional Management Conference of the Association of Professional Genealogists held over the next three days in Kansas City, a letter caught my attention. The piece of correspondence is in the 27 September 2018 issue of Nature (Volume 561. Page 464) and was brought to my attention in John Reid’s excellent blog Anglo-Celtic Connections (citing my sources 😊)

The correspondent, Robert M. Ewers, of Imperial College, London wanted to address an observation that at conferences boring talks often feel interminable but are they actually longer. I am going to quote from his letter, used with the author’s permission.

“I investigated this idea at a meeting where speakers were given 12-minute slots. I sat in on 50 talks for which I recorded the start and end time. I decided whether the talk was boring after 4 minutes, long before it became apparent whether the speaker would run overtime. The 34 interesting talks lasted, on average, a punctual 11 minutes and 42 seconds. The 16 boring ones dragged on for 13 minutes and 12 seconds (thereby wasting a statistically significant 1.5 min; …) For every 70 seconds that a speaker droned on, the odds that their talk had been boring doubled. For the audience this is exciting news. Boring talks that seem interminable actually do go on for longer.”

I will be encouraging all my fellow speakers to not be boring and will be providing tips on how to improve their speaking skills. Heaven forbid that we would fall into this category, of being boring. But only the audience will be able to answer that question.

2016 FGS National Conference Call for Presentations

2016 FGS Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference Logo - Springfield IL August 31-September 3, 2016

2016 FGS National Conference Call for Presentations.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announces that presentation proposals are now being received for its 2016 Conference, “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories,” to be held in Springfield, Illinois, Aug 31 – Sept 3, 2016. The conference will be held in cooperation with the Illinois State Genealogical Society as local host. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are within walking distance of the Prairie Capital Convention Center, the conference venue. The deadline for submission of presentation proposals is Friday, 10 April 2015.

“Time Travel: Centuries of Memories,” recognizes the vast array of people and resources whose paths into the United States brought them to, and through, the Midwest. Topics related to methodology and research skills are always welcomed, in addition to content-specific areas, such as:

  • Military: War of 1812, American Civil War, Indian Wars, World War I, World War II, European and Napoleonic Wars.
  • Migration: Europe to North America; naturalization records; passenger lists; ports of entry; to and through the Midwest; the Great Migration (northward from the sharecropping South); migration trails and routes (Mormon, Oregon, Santa Fe); refugee resettlement; modern economic migrants.
  • Ethnic Origins: The Baltic Basin (including Poland, Scandinavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Denmark, Germany); Central Europe (including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic/Bohemia, Hungary); Romance Europe (including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Papal States); the Mediterranean/Adriatic Basin (including Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Cypress, Armenia); Latin American research.
  • Great Britain and the former British Empire (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India); the British diaspora; records (civil and ecclesiastical); churches (Anglican, Quaker, Catholic, dissenter, non-conformist, Presbyterians); military records; city directories; trade directories; guilds; poll books; valuations and tax records.
  • Occupations & Work: Farmers, carpenters, brewers/distillers, boatmen, firefighters/police, railroaders, canal builders, laborers and factory hands; women in the workforce; unions, guilds and apprenticeships; coal miners; slaughterhouse workers; doctors, midwives and pharmacists; clerks and lawyers; pressmen and printers; trade directories; smugglers, bootleggers and other illicit trades.
  • Religions, Adherents and Records: Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions and records; religious colonization’s and refugee movements; Pogrom and Holocaust survivors and research; the Underground Railroad; Mormon/LDS; utopian communities; peace churches, pacifists and conscientious objectors; convents, monasteries and cloistered communities.
  • Regional research: Research repositories in the Midwest; research in Illinois and nearby states—Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio; archival collections; college and university research collections; migration destinations from Illinois: the Great Plains, Texas, Oklahoma, and California; migration to Illinois from feeder states of the east and south.
  • Genetics & DNA: the basics of DNA research; autosomal studies and advanced analysis; testing procedures; ethical considerations; adoptions; forensic and expert work; case studies.
  • Skills, Abilities & General Knowledge: Beginning research techniques; evidence analysis; online resources and tools; wikis; collaboration techniques and etiquette; terminology; comparative analysis; units of measure, trade and currency; time, calendars and dates; writing a family history; publishing – print vs eBook; creating websites, blogs and vlogs; earning genealogical credentials.
  • Society Management: Use of technology by and for societies; adaption to change; internal and external communication; meeting changing member needs and member engagement; education projects and events; society leadership; team building, implementing large projects.

The program committee specifically seeks new and dynamic proposals that will provide exceptional learning experiences for conference attendees. Proposals for workshops and sponsored talks are encouraged.

Multiple proposals (more than four) are welcome and encouraged, as most chosen to speak will be engaged for more than one presentation. There is no limit on the number of proposals a speaker may submit.

Submission Requirements

Speaker submissions and deadlines for the FGS 2016 Conference reflect the implementation of an online submission system. Interested parties must submit all presentation proposals using the online portal. The Call for Presentations is now open and will close on Friday, 10 April 2015. This deadline is for all proposal submissions, including sponsored presentations.

Compensation

Selected speakers receive an honorarium, travel compensation, and conference registration as well as per diem and hotel nights based on the number of presentations given. (Sponsored speakers only receive conference registration and syllabus materials. See more about sponsorships below.) Non-sponsored speakers receive compensation according to the FGS Conference Speaker Policy at www.fgs.org/conferences/speakerpolicy.php.

Sponsored Presentations

Societies and businesses are encouraged to submit proposals for sponsored talks by the stated deadline for proposal submission. The sponsoring organization will cover its speaker’s costs to present the presentation. Sponsored speakers are expected to abide by all speaker deadlines and syllabus requirements. Sponsored speakers will receive complimentary FGS conference registration and electronic syllabus materials.

Additional Information

Invitations will be issued in October 2015. Syllabus format guidelines will be sent to speakers at that time. The deadline for acceptance and submission of signed speaker contracts is 1 November 2015. Camera-ready handouts are required for each presentation or workshop presentation and will be compiled in a syllabus distributed to conference participants. The deadline for submissions of syllabus materials is Wednesday, 13 April 2016.

Exodus: Movement of the People Conference – Hinchley, Leicestershire, England

I leave today to travel to Hinchley in Leicestershire England to speak at the Exodus: Movement of the People Conference on 6-8 September. The focus is on the story of migration from, to and within the British Isles.
The three day event provides a who’s who’s of lecturers from the genealogy and academic history community from around the world all focused on one subject – British migration. There are twenty-one sessions given by eighteen speakers. I am giving two lectures:
Scottish Emigration to North America: Before, During and after the Rebellions
Irish Emigration to North American: Before, During and after the Famine.
If you are interested in seeing the program have a look at www.Exodus2013.co.uk. I am interested in seeing in what ways the British events are different from the American, Canadian and Australian events at which I have spoken. I will provide some feedback.

Online Presentations for Dummies – Free eBook

Free Resource

In writing this blog I have two purposes in mind. One is to keep readers up to date on British Isles resources both in print and online. The second is to provide tips and ideas for genealogical lecturers to improve their presentation skills.

This free offering came online yesterday and since I am guessing most of my readers are not subscribers to Training Magazine Network I thought I would bring this offering to your attention. It is a free eBook – Online Presentations for Dummies offered by KnowledgeVision but I don’t know how long the offer will last.

I have not had the chance to read the book yet, as I am rather busy with other things (read yesterday’s post) but the table of contents looks interesting.

1. Understanding the What and Why of Online Presentations

2. Uploading Your Presentation to the World

3. Audio Narration: Can You Hear Me Now?

4. Video Synchronization: Seeing is Believing?

5. Chapters, Footnotes and Widgets: Putting it All to Work

6. Track and Act: Turning Views into Insight and Action

7. Ten Ways to Make Your Online Presentations Sizzle?

I admit that not all speakers have moved to online presentations yet, but a number of them are experimenting with the technology. This book may help in improving what gets delivered and the price is definitely right.

 

 

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research: Scottish Research Track

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, June 9-14 at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

I am excited as next week I get to teach a whole week course on Scottish Research. IGHR as it is more familiarly known is the longest running Genealogical Institute in North America, and possibly the world. It has been operating for over 45 years. There are 10 education tracks running simultaneously. Courses for England, Scotland and Ireland are offered on a three year cycle. I coordinate and teach the English and Scottish courses, while David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch teaches the Irish course.

This will be an intense week for the 25 adult learners in the class. 19 lectures with computer class time over the 4.5 days of the Institute.

•    Scotland — Definitions, Sources, Repositories and Processes
•    Scottish Emigration to North America
•    History of Scotland
•    Scotland — Internet: Commercial Sites
•    Scotland — Internet: Free Sites
•    Find the Correct Place: Maps and Gazetteers
•    Civil Registration
•    Making Sense of the Census
•    Church Records for B/M/D
•    Kirk Session and Poor Relief Records
•    Inheritance: Wills and Executries
•    Inheritance and Transfer of Land/Buildings
•    Burghs and Their Records
•    Occupation Records
•    Scots in the British Military (2 sessions)
•    Overlooked Sources: 17th and 18th Centuries
•    Overlooked Sources: 19th and 20th Centuries
•    Planning your Trip to Scotland

Think about IGHR for your future educational needs as it is too late to register for this year

 

Upcoming Speaking Events for April 2013

A few of my readers have asked that I specifically mention when and where I am going to be speaking as they would like to come and hear me again. So I will try and do this on an occasional  to highlight upcoming events.

Two upcoming local (Chicago area) events – Tinley Park and Libertyville Public Libraries

4 Apri 2012 Tinley Moraine Genealogists – Tinley Park Public Library, 7851 Timber Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477,   at 7 p.m. For more info – Tinley Moraine Genealogists

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret

23 April 2013 Cook Park Memorial Public Library 413 N. Milwaukee Ave, Livertyville IL 60048, at 7 pm. For more info Cook Memorial Public Library

  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland

Two all day Events on the Road – Rochester, New York and Omaha, Nebraska

20 Apr 2013 Rochester Genealogical Society All Day event – A Day of British Genealogy Research with Paul Milner. For more info Rochester Genealogical Society

  • Finding Your English Ancestors: The Big Four
  • Finding Your Scottish Ancestors: The Big Five
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Scots-Irish Ancestors

27 Apr 2013 Greater Omaha Genealogical Society 2013 Spring Genealogy Workshop: Researching Your Irish Ancestors at Nebraska Methodist College, N. 87th & Burth Streets, Omaha, Nebraska. For more info Greater Omaha Genealogical Society

  • Irish Emigration to North America: Before During and After the Famine
  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland
  • Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place
  • Irish Land Records

Reflections on an Australian Lecture Tour

I have just returned from four weeks traveling and lecturing in Australia. I was the keynote speaker, giving fifteen lectures and participating in a panel at a genealogy conference on a 9 day cruise out of Sydney. I also gave 4 lectures in each of six cities: Hornsby (Sydney); Brisbane; Perth; Adelaide; Canberra and Melbourne. Everything was wonderfully arranged by Alan Phillips at Unlock the Past.  In total, I presented 39 different lectures on 15 different aspects of British Isles research.

Audience interest met and exceeded our expectations throughout the tour. During the conference, I was gratified to find that people kept coming to my lectures and in fact, began bringing their cruise companions along. During the cities tour, we exceeded attendance expectations, sometimes having double the numbers we expected.

It goes without saying that I had to be well prepared to give 15 different lectures for the cruise, and ensuring that each one was chock full of information.  In point of fact, I had to cut content to meet the 50 minute time limit of the format, since in the U.S. audiences expect a lecture of 60 to 75 minutes. Thank heaven for the power point changer with its built-in timer keeping me on schedule!

Each city venue chose its own four lectures from the fifteen given on the cruise, often with very different subjects to appeal to a wide audience, rather than being chosen to form a cohesive package. Using power point slides meant that I could make adjustments to my presentations while traveling, and thus ensure that the lecture met the specific needs of each audience as we traveled from city to city.

My goal was to make sure that everyone attending learned something new about how to do their own research, and that the beginners did not feel left in the dust. Feedback tells me we succeeded in meeting that goal.

The lectures would not have been so successful without excellent physical arrangements, and for this we thank Unlock the Past.  Venues varied greatly, but were often in clubs (rare to non-existent in the US), such a RSL (Returned Service League), Celtic , Irish, and Broncos (sports team). Major benefits of using the clubs were ample parking and on-site restaurants. Other sites included a town hall and (the best from the presenters’ perspective) the banked auditorium within the State Library of Western Australia.

Events were set up with typical 9-4/5 schedule, but during the week in a 1-9 time slot so that folks could come without missing a whole day of work. Registrants could also choose between a full or half day of presentations, for further flexibility of participation.

Mini lectures on Flip-Pal or Find My Past, given by Rosemary Kopittke, were scheduled in the middle of my four presentations. This was a very smart scheduling move, as it gave me a break. Then, while the audience members had their break, I was 100% focused on answering individual audience questions.

And this brings me to my comments about the audiences I encountered.  Their numbers varied from 80 to 150. Across the board, their base knowledge of general British history, geography and UK genealogical resources was generally far above what I would find in a typical US audience. Many more were themselves or had descended from recent immigrants; therefore, the likelihood that they had traveled extensively in the UK was also much higher than I encounter in the U.S.

I also learned that the standard procedure in Australia is not to provide handouts at the event. I was concerned about this, because it is my practice to provide a content-rich handout so that participants can focus on the examples and do not need to take extensive notes in the lecture. But I found out that it worked well with such a sophisticated audience. I provided the handouts downloadable from this website after the lectures.

Participants were eager for knowledge, case studies, and for resources. They participated actively in the discussions and in the profiling of their needs and interests that I conduct at the beginning of each session. I could readily see that they went away excited and eager to do more research.

It was great fun and a real privilege to lecture to diverse audiences.  My thanks to all! We also made some great new friends along the way.