Webinar: Tips for Presenters

headset and meI have recently been asked to conduct two webinars, one for the Southern California Genealogical Society and the other for Legacy Software Webinars. I am very excited as I have never presented in that media before. (that’s me on the left reading the instructions–it’s pretty much “plug and play.”)

For the uninitiated, “webinar” is a combo word joining “web” + “seminar” and is an on line educational event where attendees listen to the lecture and view the slides on their own device–laptop, tablet–I have even listed to one from my phone.  During the live portion of the webinar, participants can ask questions and make comments. Webinars are often then archived by the host forming a library of genealogical presentations for use of their members or subscribers.

I have listened to many webinars and try to listen to the SCGS and the Legacy webinars whenever I can, but I have not previously participated with the intent of listening for the “good” and the “bad” of webinar speakers.  Here are a few comments I received about how to be a better webinar speaker and how to deliver a successful webinar.

  • get comfortable with “talking to yourself,” i.e. there is no audience and so no immediate audience feedback.
  • script or no script? People’s advice varied but all said it was a matter of personal choice and what you are most comfortable with. A script can sound, well, “scripted.” Ultimately, you must use the system that is most comfortable for you which still allows you to convey a warm friendly presentation.
  • know your presentation cold
  • practice the technology at least 24 hours ahead of time; not two hours before.
  • watch the time…you do not want to go over the limit.
  • consider taping yourself and listening to it.  When one does that, small idiosyncrasies reveal themselves.  Unnecessary speech patterns–ahs, ums, or others– or verbal descriptions which seem vague can then be corrected for the final presentation.
  • give the presentation live in other venues first.
  • at the time of presentation, get into the right mindset–wear the clothes you would wear for a formal “in person” presentation, have water handy and act and be your professional self.

Great comments from my friends and mentors–thank you!

If you have never participated in a webinar, it is very easy. Most require a preregistration.

January 2: 10:00 am PT: “The ‘Push’ and the ‘Pull’: Decision-Making of a 19th Century Emigrant,”   hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS). On their main page, find the webinar and click on “sign up now.” (http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/)  Once you fill out the form and submit, an email will be sent to you with a link to the webinar.  You can register any time that the webinar is advertised on the site, usually a month in advance (it should be posted on the 18th of December). A few minutes before the presentation time, click on the link sent in the email and the viewing software will automatically enable after you give it permission. That’s it!  If your computer does not have speakers, then call using the phone number provided.  It’s very easy and very free.  If you miss the webinar and want to listen later, you have to be an SCGS member.

April 20, 10:00 am PT: “Fire Insurance Maps: Google Maps of their Day” hosted by Legacy Software Webinars. Legacy webinars have a similar signup process as SCGS. Log on to http://familytreewebinars.com/ and click on “Upcoming Live Webinars.” Click on the webinar you want to watch and fill out the same type of form as SCGS. Similarly, you will be sent an email in advance on how to access the webinar on the day. A few moments before the webinar click on the link and watch.  If you miss the initial live presentation, Legacy allows you to view it free in the archive for about a week. After the first week you must be a subscriber to view.

Be careful of the time zone differences. Since the initial webinar is live, you must account for the differences in time zones.  If you are viewing an archived webinar, you can watch at your own convenience.

If you haven’t watched a webinar before, give it a try.  Many genealogical organizations present webinars which are often offered free. For example, check with your state genealogical society as they may have a webinar program as well (I know MN, WI and IL each have their own webinar series.) They are great fun and you can learn a lot.

A calendar of some genealogy webinars is posted at Geneawebinars: http://blog.geneawebinars.com/p/calendar.html. I counted 36 webinars or other online genealogy events for the month of January. It appears neither SCGS nor Legacy post their events there.

This might be my final post before the Christmas holidays and so I wish you and your family the best of holiday seasons and…Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: I worked on my transcripts and made great progress.  I even found a better document to transcribe and switched. I started work on a new client report (The others  were two years old and I have learned much since then.) Talked to a new client–I am not encouraging new clients these days due to other demands– but this was interesting and local. I am preparing for my “Winter Genealogy Junket”–making reservations and contacting friends along the way to reduce the cost.  The goal of the junket is to complete the portfolio (may be some wrap up items), submit my syllabi for NGS and Jamboree, refresh the presentation for NGS on “Death and Dying” and complete the two short presentations for the academic conferences in March. I will be blogging about my progress so be prepared for my “genealogical travel journal.”



One comment on “Webinar: Tips for Presenters

  1. a gray says:

    Thanks for sharing you knowledge with us.

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