The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


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

My First Course: Lecturing Skills Including Preparation

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Lecturing Skills
Portrait Of Pensive Woman by iconmac

Image courtesy of iconmac /

Shannon Bennett, Student

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies course Lecturing Skills Including Preparation written by Thomas MacEntee caught my eye when I was at the FGS conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana this past August.  Speaking to genealogy friendly audiences is something that I have thought about from time to time.  However, as a relatively new-comer to the genealogy world (and a person who tends to overplan before she jumps in) I was really unsure of how to get started as a speaker.  Let alone what this community would like to see, hear, or expect.

In April 2013 I ventured, tentatively, into the world of genealogy speaking.  I had a safe outlet: my local society.  Plus, they really wanted to have more speakers for their meetings and were begging  members to help.  They knew I did that “social media thing” and asked if I could talk about how genealogists could use the various mediums available.  I thought why not, what could hurt?  The surprise for me was that it was so much fun!  To say it fed my curiosity on the subject of speaking to larger groups and on more topics would be an understatement.  I enthusiastically said yes when they asked me to do another topic.  The big question that kept coming back to me was, how do I do this on a bigger scale?

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Preparing to Present: Lecturing Skills Including Presentation

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Lecturing Skills


Man At Lectern by renjith krishnan

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/

Shannon Bennett, Student

In the introduction to the course Lecturing Skills Including Preparation,  author Thomas MacEntee writes how he became the genealogy speaker he is today.  Guess what? There was no magic formula, just a lot of hard work.  I figured this was the case, but you know that I was secretly hoping there would be an inkling of a formula.  Well, I will just have to keep reading and see if I can figure out my own personal formula to becoming a successful speaker.

The first two modules of this course led the students through creating a biography and resume to use for speaking engagements.  We were also given the basics on how to write a lecture description, handout, and slides.  Yes, it was a lot of information, but it is what will help lead us to becoming successful presenters. I even learned some tips that I had not thought of before, which I can use in the future for PowerPoint presentations.

Below is the sample outline we were given as a suggestion to organize our lecture descriptions.

Image Mods 1 and 2

While not all of this information may be needed for each lecture proposal, it is a great checklist to have on hand.  In the end I did modify it to make it my own and reflect my writing style.  That is the great thing about a template. Of course over time things may get tweaked again, but that is why you created it in the first place.  If you do the template right you should need to only correct it a couple of times and afterwards you should be able to use it for quite a while.

To my template I added a header so that even if I have multiple pages my name will always be front and center.  I also realized that I like to write in a narrative style more than a list style.  In the future I think I will use the bold bullet points as section headers and the sub points as suggestions on what should go into those main points.  That may prove impractical, but I like the flow better and prefer it to  a series of bullet points.

This template looks like it will be a great way to organize thoughts, ideas, and proposals for future presentations as well.  In addition I can see using it regularly for brainstorming sessions.  Also, it is a great way to keep all of your information on one topic together.  One way this could work would be by making this your main page or a table of contents for your proposals on your computer.  Saving the file names for various sections to this main page so you know where your files are, and in some cases which devices they are stored.

I can also see how this could be your way of selling yourself and your presentation to a future selection committee for an organization you would like to speak to.  You have to be clear and concise but still sound interesting.  Your goal is to get selected and the committee’s goal is to attract conference attendance by offering great presentations.  By the end of these two modules I can really see how fine a balancing act this could be.

Off to the next modules.  See you online!

The Business of Genealogy: Lecture Course Modules 3 and 4

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Lecturing Skills
Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom.

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom.

Shannon Bennett, Student

These last two modules of Lecturing Skills Including Preparation were pretty intense for me. There was a lot of information given on speaking, venues, and building your business. That word, “business,” gave me pause. Sometimes it still amazes me that people can make a living at “doing genealogy” as a few of my relatives put it. Of course, being able to have a career doing something that I love would be beyond wonderful.

I was very happy to find a section on contracts. The idea of writing a contract is intimidating to me. For a while I hoped that other people would provide me with one, or that I really wouldn’t need a contract for speaking. Well, I now know I was wrong! Boy, I will never, ever, do a presentation without one again.

The following paragraph really made me think about what a contract is for:

(c) 2013 National Institute for Genealogical Studies

(c) 2013 National Institute for Genealogical Studies

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My Presentation Assignment: Lecture Course Final Module

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Lecturing Skills

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.

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