The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

My Presentation Assignment: Lecture Course Final Module

Shannon Bennett, Student

On January 9th I gave my virtual presentation for Lecturing Skills Including Preparation. I was very nervous. More nervous than I have been in a long time, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my audience.  That to me was the biggest hurdle. Not being able to gauge my audience’s reactions.

 Image courtesy of Rasmus Thomsen/

Image courtesy of Rasmus Thomsen/

In the middle of the course we were given the assignment of picking a topic for our virtual presentation.  As it was only 30 minutes long I knew that I would not be able to go very in-depth, but I didn’t want to do just a how-to or a beginner’s lecture. That just isn’t interesting to me and I wanted people to want to come hear me lecture. I chose to speak on a subject that I had personal research experience in, Virginia Chancery Records.

Staying within the course guidelines proved to be difficult for me. However, it made me think in ways that I had not before and also made me have a few ah-ha moments. When I was writing my presentaion handout it was very difficult to keep to the page limit. In the past when I have given a lecture I would essentially provide a multi-page outline of everything I was going to talk about. I did this so people didn’t have to take notes if they didn’t want to. However, after reading the lessons in the course I can see how a 1-2 page handout is so much nicer. For my handout I wrote about the history of these records, where to find them, and why they are important. All things that I covered more in-depth during my presentation, but written out succinctly in an easy to read format.

Creating the slides for the presentation was fun. I like doing creative, artsy things so this was right up my alley. Making sure the slides followed the assignment guidelines for structure, font size, colors, and format was challenging but it made the presentation look very put together. I can be very particular with the way things I create look and it was hard to not be too much of a perfectionist. There was a lot of work to do pulling this together and I didn’t want to spend an extraordinary amount of time fiddling with the placement of items on the slides.

I struggled with keeping my presentation to the 30 minute time limit. In fact, because I know when I get excited or nervous I tend to talk fast, I built in some “padding” to my notes. I have to have a crutch, I am just too paranoid that I am going to blank on something even if I know the subject inside and out. Fidgeting in front of people is also a problem I have, so having note cards or a pointer in my hand helps me concentrate and not fiddle around with stuff. On the notes I prepared, just in case I lost my place, I filled it with points that could be added or cut to get as close to the 30 minute time frame as possible.  Even then, I think I ended 5 minutes early and I blame that on my timer being off.  Yes, I set a timer on my computer so I knew the time, but you have to set it correctly for it to work.

Practicing the presentation multiple times was crucial for many reasons. For example, if something were to go wrong I knew how to recover. Also, by practicing I know where I am in the lecture at all times and how I can speed things up or slow them down for the time allotment. Finally, it makes you sound more confident, because frankly you are; you have the presentation down which makes you less likely to feel lost.

Needless to say I am now hooked and want to lecture and teach more.

Join me on February 11th at 10:00 EST for a Virtual Meeting about my experiences  and let me answer your questions about this course.

So, on to the next course!  See you online!

Category: Courses
  • Eileen Souza says:

    I enjoyed your talk immensely. You could not tell you were nervous. You sounded in command and very knowledgeable on your subject. I gave my talk and found the stress of no visual audience almost unbearable.

    February 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm
    • Shannon Bennett says:

      Thank you for that! Usually once I get started I settle down into a rhythm. It is the preventing myself from freaking out too much before hand that is my problem.

      Yes, no audience was very hard. I like to gauge my audience and react to them. Not being able to do that made me uncomfortable because I didn’t know if I was connecting to them or not. I know that there is an increase for the want/need of webinars and other video presentation so I think we will see more requests to do presentations sans audience. Maybe technology will catch up so that the virtual presentations will be more like live ones in the near future.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm
  • Beth Gatlin says:

    I really enjoyed your presentation, and it was personally useful to me too. Some of my ancestors lived in Virginia, and I will be at the Library of Virginia in May when I go to Virginia to attend the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference. After your presentation, I searched the online chancery cases and found one for my 6th-great-grandparents William and Ann Isbell. They accused each other of physical abuse, and separated. The case was settled in 1797. I hope to find more cases which include my family.

    February 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm
    • Shannon Bennett says:

      That is fantastic! I am so happy that you were able to put it to use. You are in for a treat if that will be your first visit to the Library of Virginia. It is fantastic, I love it more and more each time I visit. Make sure to say hi if you see me in May. I will be around there somewhere!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Leave a Reply