Attending a Genealogy Conference - Five Tips to a Great Experience!
1. Choose sessions you find interesting
Sounds simple. However, names of lectures can be misleading. Be sure you read your syllabus in advance and seek out lectures that are focused on your specific interests and your level of experience.If you are at a genealogy conference then it is understood you are quite interested in genealogy and have already dipped your toe in the water. However, keep in mind that there is a wide range of experience levels and topics at any given genealogy conference. When you attend a lecture you never know what bits and pieces you will take away, but if you are pushing your level of experience you most likely are going to take away more than playing it safe. Alternatively, if you sign up for something far exceeding your experience level you may find yourself sitting in the dark.
2. Resist taking too many notes.
With your head down scribbling away notes, you are destined to miss the important points of the lecture. Be Present. You will retain more if you stay focused on listening and less writing. Most lectures come with a syllabus (an outline of the key points of the lecture). Use the syllabus to your advantage and only add when you feel necessary or take a highlighter and simply highlight in the syllabus what were learning points for you personally.
Walk around and talk with people between sessions. Introduce yourself to your neighbours at the lecture. During meals, sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. Take this opportunity to network and exchange ideas with other genealogists. Don’t be shy we are a friendly bunch and love to talk shop with other enthusiasts. Other genealogists are a wealth of information and just might be the source for your greatest opportunity to learn.
4. Talk less, listen more, and ask concise questions.
You are here to consume the knowledge of the experts, not distribute yours. Don’t be the person who interrupts the lecture with a 20-minute story of his own personal experience or problem. Other conference attendees are here to listen to the lecturer not you. Make an appointment with the lecturer after the session is over for a personal chat so you don’t take up everyone else’s time.
5. Use It Or Lose It
Attending the conference is the fun and easy part. Taking your knowledge home and using it to extend your family history and overcome brick walls is the difficult part. We often file our information away instead of putting it into practice immediately - often only utilizing one or two key points. Allow the conference to motivate and energize your genealogy juices by consciously putting into practice what you learned immediately. Review your notes and make a plan to put them into practice. You paid good money for the opportunity to learn at a conference, continue to make it work for you.
(picture copyright of David Duncan Davidson)
My Trip to the National Genealogy Conference 2009