Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting the Most out of your Genealogy Society Speaker

One of the perks of belonging to and attending a genealogy society is the education you receive through the monthly programs. Many times this may mean bringing in an outside speaker. That speaker can benefit you in many ways, besides that 1 hour talk. Here are some of my thoughts.

Prior to the meeting, check out the speaker' website or blog, if they have one. See what other resources they may provide on it. For those who have blogs, you may want to consider checking them out after the meeting. I have been known to post answers to questions that people asked me at presentations. I have also posted additional information that came to me after the talk.

Some other societies might have members who blog about speakers they have seen. Randy Seaver from the Chula Vista Society,, usually blogs about the speaker that his society is having, prior to their presenting and right after. That can give you a good idea about what others learned from the speaker and what information the speaker provides in other talks they have given.

Don't be afraid to ask the speaker a question prior to or after their talk. I have had people ask me research questions before and after the talk and I am always willing to answer and provide some ideas. I usually ask people to email me and I will give them additional ideas that way. Now, it can be difficult to do this because, in many cases, the speaker is bombarded after the presentation. You may want to consider emailing the speaker prior to the date you will see them.

Take the handout the speaker has provided and read it and check out the links. See what will help in your research. Try some new websites that you didn't know about.

Even if the topic is not one that pertains to you, think about how it can help in your research. Not every topic is going to be one that necessarily pertains to you. Maybe it's on Irish research and you don't have any Irish ancestors. Or maybe it's a beginner topic and you are more advanced in your research. But that doesn't mean you won't get something from the talk. An Irish talk may yield websites that would pertain to your English ancestors. The presenter may give you ideas for a different research tactic that can help you. Don't write off speakers or topics before you have heard them.

All speakers are different, some you are going to like a lot because of their presentation style or area of knowledge. Others you may not be as enamored with but it's so important to go to the presentation anyway and see what you can get from what is shared.

Roger Mount, from the Whittier society has a new blog where he talks about his procedure for getting speakers and how he tracks the presentations and speakers he has had. His blog is at

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