Thursday, October 24, 2013

Genealogy Presentations--Who Learns the Most; Presenter or Audience?

Genealogy Presentations--Who Learns the Most; Presenter or Audience?

I think many of us have heard the saying that "the best way to learn a subject is to teach it".  I would expand and including "giving presentations", as well.  This past Saturday I gave a presentation to the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego on a Case Study involving my Irish Brick Wall.  I have been researching Peter O'Malley (Maley, Melia, etc.) for over 15 years attempting to identify his parents and/or where in County Mayo he resided before coming to this county during the 1845-49 Famine

I won't go into all the sources of records I have checked attempting to find this information; but I have conducted quite an exhaustive search.  However, in preparing the presentation, it forced me to critically reexamine my research.  Consequently, I was able to identify some holes that needed further attention and this has sparked a renewed enthusiasm toward my breaking through this "barrier".   This is not the first time this has happened to me.  In fact, in discussing the presentation later with one of the other speakers that day, I commented that I am sure I learn more from giving presentations than the attendees.  She is a very experienced and respected genealogy speaker and wholeheartedly agreed.  I also find that the audience usually come up with ideas that are very helpful.  When we have researched a person or subject for a very long time, we tend to get "too close to the problem" and can benefit from a more detached viewpoint.

What I am most proud of in regards to this challenge, is that I have already taken several significant steps to investigate those holes that I identified.  I have sent off four pieces of correspondence looking for naturalization, mine and additional church records that could prove to be very helpful.  Too often  I identify research that needs to be done; but then am very lax in getting around to it.  I, conveniently, give a higher priority to other tasks. That is called "procrastination"--one of a genealogist's worst enemies!  Hopefully, none of you suffer from that malady. 

So don't procrastinate the next time your genealogy society is looking for someone to lead a discussion or give a presentation, step forward and volunteer to talk about one of your "brick walls" or research challenges--you will learn a lot!