Sunday, 26 April 2009

Wrapup - 10th New England Regional Genealogical Conference

I stayed for only one of the three Saturday afternoon presentations, and am glad I did. James L. Hansen, who had been the Banquet speaker, a reference librarian and genealogical specialist at the Library of the Wisconsin Historical Society since 1974, spoke on newspapers.

His was the only talk I attended which did not use any visuals. Everyone else used PowerPoint. Unlike most of the talks on newspapers I've been at he emphasized the use for vital events, especially deaths. I'll borrow a couple of his ideas for my newspaper presentation next Saturday afternoon at the Ottawa Family History Centre on Prince of Wales Drive.

No doubt things went wrong at the conference, they always do, but they`re usually much more visible to the organizers than the attendees. That was the case in Manchester, it was a most enjoyable conference.

Some lessons for conference organizers I picked up:

1. I liked the way door prizes were handled. Too often the prize session is dragged out and people end up with a prize they don`t want. In Manchester each registrant was issued with a sheet of tickets on which they wrote their name and contact information. At the stand of each exhibitor who was offering a prize was a plastic tub where you could deposit a ticket. That way you only enter for the draw for a prize you want.

2. The organizers took evaluation seriously. There was an evaluation sheet for each session including commenting on the presenter`s performance. There was also an overall conference evaluation, and the option to complete that online.

3. The only refreshment included with the registration was water, which kept the registration cost down and avoided mess. As the conference was in a hotel and adjacent conference facility, and convenient to downtown, there were lots of refreshment and meal opportunities. Extra cost options included hosted lunches and a banquet.

4. For those of us not staying at the hotel there was discount daytime parking on site.

5. Each day there were opportunities to peruse the exhibits without sessions at the same time. This was good in encouraging people to visit the marketplace. However, it started at 11am, and was followed by lunch. It meant there was only time for two morning presentations. I`d prefer an additional morning presentation and one less in the afternoon.

6. Although there were printed versions of the conference syllabus I took a CD version and used a small booklet to help select presentation to attend.

7. There was a news sheet published each day including conference presentation changes, lists of prizewinners and the weather forecast.

No comments: