Recently, I've been thinking about genealogy lectures I've attended, both virtually and in person. There are certain lecturers that stand out in my mind. They have that indescribable ability to hold your attention, entertain you and educate you, all in one. Other lecturers I've saw have fallen short of this.
Know Your Stuff
I once attended a lecture in which it was obvious that the person presenting didn't know much about what they were talking about. I understand that public speaking isn't for everyone and some people rely heavily on notes to get them through. However, when someone asks a basic question and you aren't able to answer it, it hurts your credibility.
Give Me What I Came For
If I attend a lecture based on what the brochure or syllabus says about it and you talk about something completely different, I'm not going to be happy. This is especially true of conferences when I may have chosen your lecture over another one given at the same time that I also wanted to attend.
Keep Your Promises
If you promise attendees you will send them something or answer questions if they email you, you need to follow through. I once attended a lecture in which the presenter didn't have enough handouts. The presenter promised they would send the material through the mail if we provided our address.
A few months later, I sent an email to the person, thinking mine had gotten lost in the mail. The presenter still hadn't mailed the items, but promised to get them out right away with a bonus for waiting so long. That was a few months ago and I'm still waiting. That lecturer has lost all credibility in my eyes and I will no longer spend my money on their lectures.
Don't Read from the Syllabus
According to Merriam-Webster, a syllabus is "a summary outline of a discourse, treatise, or course of study, or of examination requirements." I like having a syllabus because it gives me an idea of what to expect from a lecture. However, some lecturers put their entire presentation in the syllabus and read from it. Why would I attend your lecture if I can get all the information from the syllabus? I could have filed the syllabus in my education binder and attended another lecture.
Strike a Balance
Not everyone learns the same. If your presentation consists only of slides, some of your attendees may not be getting much from them. Likewise, a lecture without any visuals can be boring from other attendees. Make sure your genealogy lecture strikes a balance between the two to ensure you reach the entire audience.
Make Time for Questions
Sometimes when learning new material, I may have questions about what was covered. If you're an authority on a particular research area, I may have come to the lecture specifically so I could ask you a question. If you can't set aside a few minutes before or after your presentation, give attendees an option of catching up with you later at your booth or emailing you.