Archive for the ‘Presentations & Lectures’ Category

SpeakerWiki is now SpeakerMix

On 10 May 2011, I posted an article entitled, “SpeakerWiki: What it is, and how you can use it.”

I just discovered that SpeakerWiki has now been renamed SpeakerMix. Neither the FAQ nor the Blog describes why this change was made. However, all of the information previously available on SpeakerWiki has been transferred to this new site. The old URL redirects to the new URL

How do people learn, and how should we teach?

As genealogical lecturers, we should be aware of two factors: what our audience wants, and what our audience needs.

In order to understand what our audience wants, all we have to do is ask them, and listen to what they tell us.

However, to understand what our audience needs, it is important to understand a little bit about how people learn. This is a relatively new field of research, employing both brain biologists and psychologists. There are numerous theories about how the brain works, and researchers still openly admit how little is actually known. Yet strides are being made.

Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant affiliate with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, published the New York Times bestseller, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School in 2008. This book outlines 12 “Brain Rules” that discuss various aspects of the brain that are currently known, and how these can be applied to our daily lives.

These twelve rules are summarized on the Brain Rules website:

  • EXERCISE – Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
  • SURVIVAL – Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
  • WIRING – Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
  • ATTENTION – Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  • SHORT-TERM MEMORY – Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
  • LONG-TERM MEMORY – Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
  • SLEEP – Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
  • STRESS – Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  • SENSORY INTEGRATION – Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
  • VISION – Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
  • GENDER – Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
  • EXPLORATION – Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

The Brain Rules website contains quite a bit of information, including the Introduction to the book, Chapter Summaries, References, a blog, and several supplemental videos and SlideShare presentations. All of the information can help to inform us both on how we ourselves learn, and how we can teach others effectively.

There is even one presentation included on the site that is specifically designed for this purpose: “Brain Rules for PowerPoint presenters.” The presentation carries the additional credibility of being designed by presentation expert Garr Reynolds, author of the absolutely essential book, Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Garr’s philosophies on presentation use much of what Dr. Medina espouses, and the presentations are highly effective.

In other words,

Understanding how the brain works –> understanding how our audiences (and ourselves!) learn –> providing what our audiences need –> effective presentations

“Rocking” as a genealogy lecturer

Genealogy blogger Dee wrote an interesting post in her “Ancestrally Challenged” blog on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, entitled, “How to Rock as a Genealogy Lecturer.” This post is written from the perspective of a member of the audience of genealogy lectures, and tells exactly what she wants and expects from lecturers.

I would recommend that all genealogy lecturers read this post fully several times, take it to heart, and adjust your presentations. Dee’s post is typical of comments I have heard from other audience members at genealogy meetings and conferences, as well as meetings and conferences in other industries. I worked in the audio-visual field in Washington, D. C., for ten years, specifically in the field of conferences, and have had opportunity to participate behind the scenes in many conferences at the Convention Center, large conference hotels, and the National Press Club. No matter the industry or subject matter, how presenters present is crucial to the success of their mission, whether sales, persuasion, or education.

Dee’s suggestions can be summed up by her headings:

  1. Know Your Stuff
  2. Give Me What I Came For
  3. Keep Your Promises
  4. Don’t Read from the Syllabus
  5. Strike a Balance
  6. Make Time for Questions

I would recommend that all lecturers, myself included, make the conscious effort to heed these suggestions. By doing so, we will provide our audiences with exactly what they want. This will benefit both the lecturer–a good reputation is crucial to being offered more and better-paying speaking jobs–and the audience–who will be better educated by having higher quality lecturers available.

After all, as professionals, it is not our job to tell the customers what they want, but to listen to them, understand what they want, and provide it.

SpeakerWiki: What it is, and how you can use it

Recently I was alerted to a site devoted specifically to public speakers: SpeakerWiki.

SpeakerWiki is a free website providing an online directory to professional speakers, in many different subject areas, including motivational, business, technology, new media, politics, journalism, health and wellness, education, sports, religion, and now genealogy.

The site is based on the Wiki platform, meaning that content is created by the users. This includes, according to the website’s FAQ, “hundreds of event planners, speakers, and agencies around the world.” The site continues,

This is a collaborative effort. Thousands of people have contributed information to different parts of this project, and anyone can do so, including you. All you need is to know how to edit a page, and have some speaker knowledge you want to share.

To add yourself or another genealogy speaker you know, you simply have to sign up for a free account. Each speaker receives “SpeakerCred” (that is, credibility) by adding links to their official homepage, published books, WikiPedia pages, videos of their presentations, and by receiving reviews.

SpeakerWiki also offers a free online article for speakers, entitled, “The Speaker Wiki Guide: Top 6 Ways to Get More Leads.” For those who are interested in obtaining more speaking jobs, this short guide might help.

For genealogical society event planners who are interested in finding new and fresh speakers, take a look at this site to see if there is someone in your area. You can read reviews of genealogy speakers on this site, and contact the speakers directly to learn more information.

To learn about my speaking experience, visit my SpeakerWiki profile.

Your Civil War Ancestors: A Guide to Research presentation – Feedback wanted!

I recently presented a lecture on this subject at the Mid-Atlantic Family History Conference in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  Please let me know what you think.

PLEASE NOTE:  Most of the lecture was oral – these slides generally only provided visual exhibits for what I was discussing.


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