Sunday, January 31, 2016

How do I come up with a topic?

I thank you all for the many comments I received private
on yesterday's post

I can't recall a time when so many people 
reached out to me to thank me, and to ask questions.

One of the questions I had several people ask me was,
"How do you come up with all of these topics?"

That is actually a very good questions.
I can't speak for all genealogy speakers, 
but let me tell you how I do it.

First and foremost,
they come from researching my own family.

I have spent years taking up the research where my parents left off.
And, just when I think I have seen everything there is to see,
I find something new!

I have run across:
people who should have received awards
people who should have kept quiet
grass widows
"idiots" on the 1880 DDD schedule
families that were nearly wiped out in 1918
babies that were previously unknown
courthouse burnings by my own family
cemetery destruction
school records
migration trails...

Oh, I could go on and on.
And, so could you.
But, if any of you have heard me speak,
or listened to webinars I have given,
you will notice that many of the above topics 
have been the subjects of my presentations.

I figure if they have happened in my family,
perhaps they have happened in someone else's, too!

So, I take what I learn...
and, I teach it to others.

There is another way I come up with topics.
I listen.
I listen very carefully during conversations at
at luncheons,
to those passing me in the hall,
while waiting in line,
to those that may ask a question during a presentation,
when I see heads nodding at the answer to that question
(whether in one of my classes or someone else's).

All it takes is for someone to say they are having a problem in a certain area,
and my ears perk up.

Because if they're at a standstill,
then perhaps others are at a standstill, too.

So, I begin to research everything I can get my hands on
to learn about it.

WThese are two ways that I come up with topics.
And, when I say to my friends that I am always in research mode, 
it means
I am always in research mode.

There are many people who would love to eventually become 
a genealogy speaker,
or perhaps they are just starting out.

With all my heart, I say

There is room for all.
Each one brings their expertise to the table,
and can perhaps help someone that has been struggling for a long time.

Here is how I have done it.

1.  Start out by letting local societies know that you have a topic that they may be interested.
They usually plan their programs a year in advance, 
but let them know that if something falls through,
you would like to be considered.

2.  When word gets around, say yes!
Say yes to societies, public libraries, schools, Scout groups, luncheon groups, etc.
These will all give you experience,
and your comfort will grow at standing in front of any crowd.

3.  Keep track of every single presentation you have given!
All of these presentations will show how serious you are at becoming a speaker.

Here is an example from my own portfolio:
Lecture Experience:
Ambassador – RootsTech 2016
Ancestry Academy - 2016
BYU Family History Conference - 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015
Crawford County, Ohio Genealogical Society/Bucyrus Public Library – 1996-2016
Darke Co., OH – Full-day Seminar- 2012-2015
Dayton, Ohio Family History Jamboree – 1996-2015
Fairfax, VA Annual Spring Conference – 2014
Galion, Ohio Public Library – 2008, 2009-2012, 2014
ICAPGen Conference, BYU, Provo, UT – 2007
Indianapolis, OH – Full-day Seminar – 2013, 2014
Knox County Career Center - Adult Education, 1997 – 1999
Legacy Family Tree Webinars - 2015-16
Muncie, IN Genealogy Symposium – 2012-2015
National Genealogical Society- 2016
OGS Conference – 1998-2016                                                                           
OGS Summer Workshop - 1999 - 2012
Ohio State University - Adult Education, 1994 – 1997
RootsTech – 2015-2016
Shelby Co., OH – Full-day Seminar – 2014
Southern California Genealogy Jamboree – 2015-2016
Webinar, Illinois Genealogical Society – 2012-2016
Webinar, Southern California Genealogical Society – 2013, 2014
Webinar, Wisconsin Genealogical Society – 2014

I don't show this to scare you off.
It's just example of how I have a visible list for organizers to looks at.

I also keep a spreadsheet that shows what I spoke about
at each of the above venues.

4.  Not only do I have a teaching list like the one you see above,
I have a learning list, too.
Each time I listen to a webinar,
go to a conference,
or a society meeting,
I keep a running track of what I have done to further my own education.

I don't want to get stale.
Nor do I want to get into a rut.

So, this is just a small sampling of what I do.

And, I have way too much fun doing it!!
Peggy speaking to a crowd in Sidney, Ohio.
It doesn't matter if the size is great or small,
they still get the same quality of program.

Getting ready to teach a Beginner's Class at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference.
Or was it a Land Platting Class?
Sisters Cindy and Jodi came up right before one of my RootsTech classes last year.
I grew up with these remarkable women!

All of these experiences led me to be invited to be an instructor for
Ancestry Academy.

I remember starting out with storytelling at my children's school
They would bring me in when they were learning about Ohio history.
The neat thing is that the stories I told about early Ohio history and the 
Northwest Territory
always involved stories about my own family.

My kids became heroes!
Their friends loved it!!!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing how you do what you do! You are a great example to follow and I love how willing you are to include others in your process.

  2. Now you have me wondering if I ran across you at the Dayton OH Family History Jamboree 1996-2015 when I lived there. I used to attend every few years. It was close to where I lived.

  3. Cheryl, how kind of you! I understand what it's like to try and find where your niche is. When I first began, I didn't think I knew anything that anyone else would want to know.

  4. Cathy, I thank you. And, I can't wait to see you again this week!