Recently, I attended a seminar at the Central Library titled “Writing up your Family History”. It was free, and it caught my interest, so I decided to go along to it. During the seminar I quickly realised that I was picking up so much more than just the subject matter:
This is more of a personal thing that I do rather than something I picked up during the seminar. During sessions like this I always sit at the front of the room. There is a lot of value in this because I then feel that I am really involved. As well as being able to see any slides, etc, clearly, and being able to hear the speaker clearly, I can “interact” with the presenter more. I make eye contact, and acknowledge that I am listening (with small actions such as head nods, etc). As a result I feel that I am more receptive to what is being said.
Keep it Simple
The lady presenting was what I liked to refer to as a “library bod”. That is, someone who was fully immersed in the world of research and study. In fact she worked in the research section of the library. She was completing a PhD, and had written several historical papers, and was very knowledgeable. However her language was simple, and the things she discussed were far from confusing.
Break up the presentation
The presenter broke her presentation into “chapters”. She would introduce the particular area that would be talking about with a PowerPoint slide (containing the title of that “chapter”, and then she just talked about it. No further PowerPoint slides, no further distractions (however, I do comment further on this below).
While the presenter was talking she stayed to one side of the room. She used her arms to help “explain” some parts of the speech, but she did not move around the room. This meant that you could focus more on the message rather than the movement.
Know your stuff
Nothing new here. It was obvious that she knew her subject. I didn’t get a chance to ask whether she had practiced her presentation or not, but she certainly never faltered, or seem “lost”.
I mentioned above that he presenter made minimal use of PowerPoint. She had a slide with the name of the particular area that was talking about, and that was it. This was left displaying until she changed to a new sub-topic. Many of these slides, however, had impressive looking word clouds on them – in multiple colours. I found that I would try and read these, which distracted me from what was being said. I think, in his case, just having the name of the sub-topic displayed would be enough.
During the seminar there were a few things that I found interesting. The presenter was talking, a one stage, about styles, and the correct way to cite sources. She mention that there was a particular section of the library where books that covered these topics could be found. I found this interesting because, if it was me, I would turn first to the internet for advice. It did show the difference in the “worlds’ we lived in. She works in a world of books, so her first instinct is to turn to a book. I live in a world of computers.
Another thing that I noticed was when she was talking about using Word to write material. In this case, she was expounding the virtues of the “Outline” function of MS Word. There was a screen shot showing on her slide, and she mentioned that his was the latest version of Word. It wasn’t. The screenshot was of Word 2007. However, this small error did not make one iota’s difference to the material she was presenting, and, besides, the entire audience (apart from myself) were retired elderly people, for whom it would also not make one iota of difference.
All in all, I was really surprised by the seminar. I learnt a lot. Even some things about geneaology!