Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Genealogy Speaker

RootsTech 2016 is set to begin in just a few days!
It has been so fun to scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feed and be part of the excitement.
People are coming from all over the world.

This year, I am attending alone.
Mr. Kerry and I were fortunate last year that we had such good weather to travel across the country.
But, there's no guarantee that we'll have good traveling weather two years in a row
to travel across this great country.

Genealogy conferences usually begin with a "Call for papers", 
in which an organization is announcing that they are hosting a conference
and looking for speakers.
There have been a few times where I submitted nothing to the "call for papers",
but was personally asked to develop classes for the event.
Which, I gladly did.

I normally have 30-35 class proposals that are 'at the ready'.
That means that if asked to present, these are ready to go.
The syllabus materials are written.
The slides are done.
Just give me the time you want me to be there.

Speakeres have to make sure that my topics are not "canned".
I look to the audience I will be addressing, understanding what level most of them are in their research, and tweak what may be needed.

I can tell a canned lecture, no matter the venue.

In a few weeks, you find out if you're accepted, and preparations for travel begin.

These are the good parts.
Let me tell you some of the bad parts.

Several years ago, I was asked to present an all-day series of classes for a society.
They had their own projector, so I wouldn't need to bring mine.

I loaded up my laptop, my flash drive, and drove to across the state to get things ready.
It meant getting up and out of the house before 6:00 am.

Mr. Kerry was with me.
He is my rock.

When we arrived, I was taken to a room where a projector was waiting for me.
My laptop and the projector were not on speaking terms.
There was no expert I could turn to.
I was the expert.
No amount of tweaking, begging, cajoling, threatening, etc. seemed to work.

A dear woman volunteered her laptop to see if it would communicate with the projector.
It did!
  Both pieces of technology seemed happy!
I pulled out my flash drive that contained a back up of my presentations.
It wouldn't fit into her USB drive.
The ends were crimped.
I have no idea how in the world it happened, but the ends were bent in an awkward position, 
and they couldn't be inserted into her laptop.

I was beginning to sweat bullets.
People have paid good money, and given up part of their day to hear me!

I asked if the room had access to wifi, and it did!!!!
I signed into my Dropbox account from her computer,
pulled up my presentation, and within a few moments we were good go.

There were a few important things I learned from this:
1.  It is probably a good idea to bring your own projector, if possible.
We were driving, so it worked out fine.

2.  It might also be a good idea to have two flash drives with you.
I have no idea what happened between my house and the venue, 
but somewhere along the way, those ends became crimped.
And, all of the information was lost that was on that drive.

3.  Thank goodness for the wifi connection that was strong enough to allow access to files I had backed up in Dropbox.
I honestly don't know what I would have done without having that option.

4.  It's important that your audience doesn't get a sense of how frazzled you are.
Believe me, I was frazzled.
But, not a person in the room knew it.
They knew something may have had a kink in it, but they didn't have to worry.
And, I didn't need 500 voices telling me how to solve the problem.
It got solved.

Now, on the eve of leaving for RootsTech 2016, why would I even be writing about this?
I have things to do!

Because right now, there are literally hundreds of speakers
 that are going over and over their presentations.

They are tweaking slides.
They are taking some out and putting others in.

Some that have been asked to give permission for their presentations to be streamed.
For them, that means changing their entire presentation to a different ratio,
for the screens are much larger for the streaming.

This would be me.
I spent all day Thursday re-sizing every one of my slides.
They will be re-size again when I present in Fort Lauderdale in May for the
National Genealogical Society.
Miss Peggy, doing what she loves!

If you are fortunate enough to be at RootsTech next week,
be sure to take the time and let a speaker know how much you enjoyed their presentation.
I can tell you right now,
a lot of work went into it.

Hours and hours of work went into it.
And, it's never really done, for that speaker will go over it again
before the next presentation is given.

But, it's all worth it when you receive an email that says:
" I want to thank you so much for teaching 
the class on women at the Dayton Jamboree. It really was the best class I took all day.  Indeed, I was having such a good time in that class, I regretted having to leave and go on to the next one!"

That, my friends, is called payday.

Enjoy RootsTech this week, whether in person or at home.

And, if you see me, come and say hello!



  1. Loved your thoughts and love you! I remember having to go to Plan D, because every other plan and contingencies fell through. Best wishes and good luck and see you at Rootstech!

  2. I think we could compile a thick book if we asked about some of the experiences genealogy speakers go through!

    But, it is so worth it!

    See you this week...

  3. I'll see you this week as well, it will just be on the live stream! And I am so looking forward to it.

  4. Susan, I'm counting on you to size me up and tell me how I did. Send me a message and let me know how it could have been better, or even what worked.