Monday, May 20, 2013

PowerPoint Presentations and Webinars

In 2002, right after graduating from BYU, I presented my first genealogy class on how to do Cemetery Research at our local Family History Center. Since that time my list of classes has grown to twenty, with presentations to about twenty four groups. For some groups I presented numerous times in the past eleven years and to a few only once. Usually the number of classes is one to two at a time, but there were a couple of all day seminars of three or four classes.  Most of the groups are here in Oregon, but some classes were in Washington and at BYU in Utah.

Believe it or not, I am a bit bashful and do get some pre-presentation gitters. There are some lessons learned in the process and now I am sure to be well rested and do not plan for much other activity after the classes. When teaching there is an odd transformation and it usually occurs when the attendees interact well and show an interest in what we are discussing. For me it is most enjoyable to be in a smaller classroom, not big auditoriums, where I can see everyone's face and hand when they go up.

As part of my preparation I often watch other presenter's classes or webinars for insight into how they prepare for teaching. Every presenter seems to have their own style and every attendee will have different ways of learning. While the more polished professionals seem to use the latest PowerPoint tools, some of the most well-known keep their presentations very simple. One of the critical aspects of following a presenter is their handout or syllabus. In the process of updating presentations some, me included, forget to sync the revised presentation to the handout. This can be extremely frustrating for the attendees trying to follow along.

The updating of presentations is very important. Recently another presenter mentioned that he has redone his presentation on four times this year and with the recent changes he must do so again before he presents this summer. This year it was necessary for me to update my presentation on three times. The last time I presented it we went online and did it live, but there were a few glitches at the end. For my community school classes the connection is not good for going online and I was grateful to have made a PowerPoint as a backup plan.

In 2013 we are seeing so many changes to established websites and new ones being created, that speakers are required to stay current in the latest upgrades. Some of us just want to stick with the old formats, but that is only going to leave us behind in the dust. Not only must we keep current on materials and information, but we must also generate new presentations.

My goal is to create two new PowerPoints every year and to update the others as they are requested by a group. Teaching community school classes has pushed me to do this, as I teach six classes a term and rotate the classes so eighteen are taught in the year. Most of my handouts are available at the PAPAFUG (Portland Area PAF Users Group) website, as are those of other past speakers.

For now I like to stay close to home and there are plenty of speaking opportunities right here. My average for the last few years is about twenty-six classes or about one class every two weeks. There are offers to speak doing a live webinar, but for now I don't feel that is my style. For those who provide webinars, speak at regional and national conferences, and other venues I so appreciate your talents.
Genealogy is a fascinating field and we have so much to learn from one another. Thank you for all those who have taught me so much in this amazing field of family history research.

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