Tips for RootsTech Presenters

Tips for RootsTech Presenters

I won’t be attending RootsTech 2014 this year due to previously scheduled speaking commitments: the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise to be exact. But several new speakers for this year’s event have asked me to share my tips and tricks on presenting at RootsTech.

I have been delivering genealogy and family history related content as in-person lectures as well as webinars for over five years now. And in my previous career, I often had to present to audiences ranging from three people to 3,000. And you name it, it has happened to me during a talk: equipment breakdown, equipment caught on fire, fire alarm in hotel, hotel caught on fire, etc. I even had a “serial stripper” disrobe in the back of the room during one of my talks.

So here are some tips and tricks, many of which are applicable to any genealogy speaking venue:

  • Know your presentation. And I mean totally know it – with your eyes closed and no notes. Rehearse and practice, but in a way that allows you to be flexible. It is better to know all the concepts and be able to add/remove content and comments as needed due to technical issues or time restrictions.
  • One minute per slide. The formula I use is one minute of talking time per slide. Allow 2-3 minutes for an intro and then remember that you need time for Q&A. So you have maybe 47 minutes total for a standard “hour long” presentation.
  • Don’t fear the big stage. If your talk is being live-streamed at RootsTech, you’ll likely be appearing on the same big stage as the key note speakers. With music. And lights so bright that you can’t see the audience. Don’t panic. You’ve got this. Treat this presentation as no different than one in front of your genealogy society of 20 people back home. Your love of genealogy and your topic will shine through.
  • Greet attendees at the door. If time permits – after you’ve set up your slides and tested audio equipment – stand at the front door and thank people for attending. Stop by the front row and ask attendees why they find your topic interesting. Understand the expectations of your audience and then be flexible and make adjustments to your presentation related to the feedback.
  • Have multiple backups of your slides. Seriously. Like five backups all over the place: Dropbox, flash drive, on your laptop, email, etc.  Stuff happens and it will happen. You should always have access to your slides no matter what.
  • Use a flash drive. Place your notes and talk on a flash drive. Many venues, like RootsTech, don’t allow you to use your own laptop or tablet. Check and verify the presentation requirements before you arrive at the speaking venue.
  • Test your presentation on a different computer. If you’ve used funky fonts or linked to files on your computer, guess what? It is likely those items won’t work on the computer provided by the speaking venue. Copy your presentation to a flash drive and then do a test run on another computer, not the one where you created the presentation.
  • Display your contact info on a slide. At the end of your presentation have a slide with your name and your email address. Many times attendees will want to send you not just feedback, but ideas that you can incorporate to your presentation. Also, I’ve been able to secure future speaking engagements from an attendee who sits on the board of a genealogy society or organization.
  • Relax and enjoy. The time will go by faster than you realize; live in the moment. Enjoy the time spent with your audience. Take mental notes as to what worked and what didn’t work. Remember those audience questions and work them into the next version of the presentation.

Photo: Public Speaking, used via Creative Commons license.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Official RootsTech 2014 Blogger

Official RootsTech 2014 Blogger

I’ve been selected as an Official Blogger for RootsTech 2014, the Family History and Technology Conference to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah 6-8 February 2014. I’m honored to be selected and my goal is to bring the members and readers of GeneaBloggers information about the upcoming event.

Attending RootsTech as the Genealogy Ninja

While I have attended the past two RootsTech events, this coming year I will be attending in “ninja mode” as I call it, since I will be in Australia on the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise while RootsTech is going on back in Salt Lake City. This means I’ll be reporting on developments involving RootsTech prior to the event and then sharing the news I received during the event as well.

$10 Off Early Bird Registration at RootsTech 2014

My first bit of news to share: if you haven’t already registered, you can save an additional $10 off the early bird price for a full access conference pass at RootsTech by using Promo Code: RT14LTO. This promotion is valid until November 30, 2013.

Click here to register today!

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Who’ll Be At FGS 2013 in Fort Wayne?

FGS 2013 Conference

There will be members of GeneaBloggers present at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2013 Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana from 21 August to 24 August 2013.

If you are a member of GeneaBloggers and you will be attending, please let us know by sending an email to and you’ll be added to the list below.


Jennifer Alford

Lisa Alzo
The Accidental Genealogist

Karen Miller Bennett
Karen’s Chatt

Shannon Bennett
TNT Family History

Shelley Bishop
A Sense of Family

Selma Blackmon
Genealogical Research: past, present, future…

Ruth Blair
The Passionate Genealogist

Diane Boumenot
One Rhode Island Family

Bruce Buzbee
RootsMagic Blog

Kathy Chastain
James County Tennessee Historical Society

Margaret Cheney
A Step In Line

Susan Clark
Nolichucky Roots

Amy Coffin
We Tree

Cinnamon Collins
(Mis) Adventures of a Genealogist

Linda Colston
Genealogy – This, That, Tother

Barbara Coughlin
Genealogy Puzzles

Amy Johnson Crow, CGsm
Amy’s Genealogy Blog

Cheri Daniels
Journeys Past

Derek Davey
Genealogy – Northeast Ohio
Genealogy – Northwest Ohio
Genealogy – Southeast Michigan

Kathryn Doyle
California Genealogical Society and Library

Lisa Ellam
The Faces of My Family

Sharon Garner
Garnering Ancestors

Carol Genung
Illuminated Ancestries Blog

Diane Haddad
Genealogy Insider

Kay Haden
Leaves of the Tree

Kathryn Lake Hogan

Jennifer Holik

Daniel Horowitz
My Heritage (English)
My Heritage (Spanish)

Cecily Kelly
Cone Chronicles
Letters To My Grandparents

Chris Klauer
Remembering the Family

Kathy Kult
KK’s Genealogy Adventures

Jenny Lanctot
Are My Roots Showing?

Michael LeClerc

Brenda Leyndyke
Journey To The Past

Judy Linnebach
Finding Your History

Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
The Last Leaf On This Branch

Tina Lyons
Gen Wish List

Wendy Malinowski
Our Lineage

Deborah Carder Mayes
Deborah A. Carder Mayes Genealogy & Family History
Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail

Linda McCauley
Documenting the Details

Sandy McPherson
The Frugal Genealogist

Leland Meitzler

Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Finding Forgotten Stories

George Morgan
The Genealogy Guys

Kimberly Nagy
What’s My Lineage? Confessions of a Lineage Group Junkie

Cathy Napolitan
Cathy’s Genealogy Blog

Terri O’Connell
Finding Our Ancestors

Mark Olsen

Kathy Reed
Family Matters

Mariann Regan
Into The Briar Patch

Diane Richard
Upfront with NGS

Diana Ritchie
Random Relatives

Angela Rodesky
Sweet Tea, Tart Lemons, and Memories

Jodi Spade Roessler
The Legacy She Left Behind

Drew Smith
The Genealogy Guys

Paula Stuart-Warren, CGsm
Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica

Cari Taplin
Genealogy Pants

Julie Tarr

Erica Voolich
Erica’s Adventures in Genealogy
Will the Real Ursula Wright Please Stand Up!

Pam Warren
Granny’s Genealogy

Marian Wood
Climbing My Family Tree

Connie Yen
Voices From The Past

Note: CG, Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists of Washington, DC, and used under license.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee