Family History Research

Praise for The Connected Genealogist

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review of The Connected Genealogist’s book by Thomas MacEntee, Approaching the Lectern, on my blogs.  Little did I know just how much I was going to need that book a couple of weeks after the review.

Yesterday I was presented with the opportunity to give a presentation at a local library’s mini-genealogy conference in April 2011. As many of you know I recently made the transition from hobbyist genealogist to professional. What you may not know is that this will be my first conference presentation.  I have given short talks at local genealogy societies, but even that has been a while and did not require PowerPoint slides and major handouts.

After I recovered from the shock of what did I just say yes to, I went back through the notes taken during the phone call and started making an outline to submit by October 1st. During this process I realized I needed help so I went back to The Connected Genealogist’s Lulu storefront and purchased the Genealogy Speaking Templates. Have you seen these? They are amazing!  The templates include: Instructions; Presentation Description; Speaking Agreement Letter; Speaking Agreement; Speaking Spec Sheet; Speaking Travel and Hotel Sheet; and a Syllabus sheet. Thomas provides everything you need in one package to get you started. Within a couple of hours I had a Presentation Description and Syllabus I was 90% happy with and after a little more tweaking, will feel comfortable submitting on October 1st.

By pairing the Genealogy Speaking Templates with his book Approaching the Lectern, the process is less frightening.  Thomas guides you step by step through the process of booking your presentation, creating a presentation from speaking notes to slides and actually giving the presentation.  Thanks to these two invaluable resources I believe my first conference presentation will be fantastic.

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Thursday Research Trip

Today I took the train into the city and headed to Daley Plaza to research Probate and Naturalization records in the Archives Room of the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court . I requested several Probate records and now have to wait (patiently) for them to be retrieved from the storage so I can view them. In a week or so I will trek back to the city to view those records. I also got copies of a few Naturalization records.

The one thing I learned about visiting the Archives Room 1113 in Daley Plaza is you must get there at 8:30 when they open. There were only two women working the front of the office and both also answered the phones in addition to helping walk-in customers. It did get busier while I was there and one of the women seemed to get a little testy because there were several of us to assist, but when others cleared out, it was fine. A smile and thank you, repeated several times during the record retrieval process, goes a long way.

After my records searched I hiked to Panera across from the Harold Washington Library to meet Thomas MacEntee of The Connected Genealogist and GeneaBloggers to name a few. We had a very nice chat over coffee and then went across the street to the library. I was even given one of his MEET*MEME Trading Cards! If you haven’t seen those on his blog, check them out. Very cool! I may have to get some for myself after seeing his! Thanks for the nice visit Thomas!!

On my way home, just as I was about to get off the train, I got a phone call from a local library about possibly teaching genealogy classes next year. Add that to my to-do list for a return phone call. It was a great day!

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Book Review – Approaching the Lectern

Thomas MacEntee, owner of The Connected Genealogist, recently gave me a review copy of his book Approaching the Lectern, which you can buy at his Lulu Storefront. If you have followed my blogs, you know I have recently made the transition from hobbyist genealogist to professional. One of my business goals is to educate. One way I am going to make that happen is to teach a Beginning Genealogy class at my local park district over the winter. It has been a few years since I did any major public speaking or developed training materials from which I could teach. Thomas’s book has given me new tools to prepare my presentation, give my presentation, and build my reputation as a professional genealogist.

His book is divided into eight chapters: Why be a Genealogical Speaker?; Take Inventory and Document Your Reputation; Building Your Presentation; Building Speaking Skills; Dealing with Disaster; Virtual Presentations; Building Your Business; and Marketing Your Business. Need some additional information on the chapter you are reading? Thomas provides reference links with more information.  Additionally, every chapter ends with a fantastic conclusion to reiterate the important points and a To-Do list!

I will not give the whole book away but there are a several points that really hit home for me.

  • Create a bio and resume for myself.  I have a resume for my career life, but did not, until recently, have one that specifically pertained to my genealogical accomplishments and education. The list of possible items to include on a resume is long and really made me see where I am lacking and what I need to focus on. That list of possible items can also be made into a goal sheet to help me keep track of what I have done and what I want to do.
  • Create presentation slides. In my past life as a database administrator/creator, report writer, and trainer, I became accustomed to having each training attendee sit in front of a computer while I navigate the main computer projected on a screen. I walked through the new features of an area we were rolling out, explained the process, and answered questions. Genealogical speaking or teaching requires a different perspective.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice! Thomas provides many excellent tips to prepare you to give your presentation.
  • The tips about disaster preparedness are important. This chapter gave me a good “heads-up” on things I have not even thought of yet because I am not that close to my first presentation.
  • Speaking for a fee or for free? As a new professional  this chapter gave me many ideas on where to begin.
  • And finally, the Marketing Chapter provides some wonderful suggestions to promote yourself and your business. Some of the suggestions I already incorporate into my business, others I need to add to my to-do list.

I encourage you to read Thomas’s book, Approaching the Lectern if you would like new tools, or a refresher on things you already knew, to become a better speaker and business person.  This is a book you can read many times as your business changes. Each time you read it you will find that one piece of “new” information you did not need last time you looked at it. This book will remain on my shelf as a reference for a long time. Thank you Thomas for providing such a wonderful resource!

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