Monthly Archives: March 2006

Honing Speaking Skills

Ken Aitken profile

After each "roadshow" I spend a lot of time thinking about what worked and what did not work. There were moments that really zinged! And some less stimulating moments in my presentations. So while these thoughts were on my mind I wondered why I had not paid more attention to Merlin Waite my college speech  professor. So I went looking for what other speakers have done to hone their skills. Here are some ideas I found

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Newsletter or Snoozeletter

Ken looks right.jpg

Amy Larner Giroux will be speaking at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Boston on this topic. Unfortunately I'll be down the hall in another session. But the topic of newsletters came up several times on my road trip this month, so I'm going to depart slightly from normal ideas on genealogy education and address the idea of a newsletter for your genealogy society.

Lets get down to basics first. A newsletter is about NEWS– an awesome concept, and its not a lengthy item like a journal or magazine. Its shorter, like a LETTER.

Everything that follows is highly charged opinion of Ken Aitken. I will blunder on. I hope you follow.

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Road Show Notes: The Door Prize

I offer a door proze at my presentations. Last night in beautiful Kelowna BC I had everyone fill in a slip with name and email. We drew the winner, and she got a prize worth $75.
The other slips had info as precious as the prize winners name– potential clients.
So today I entered them in my database and sent them a message asking if they had any follow up questions or comments. I`ll answer all responses, and in 6 weeks share something interesting with them so they remember me.
What do you think Will they remember me when they need a professional genealogist

The Probability Test: An Often Forgotten Step in Genealogy

Every week I consult with genealogy students from across the continent. At least monthly I discuss a scholarly article in genealogy with a small group of students in a chat room. Over the past three years it has become clear to me that most people never bother to test the probability that an event has occurred BEFORE they start searching in the original records to find their ancestor in the event. Let me explain what I mean

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Using Props in Teaching and Lecturing

Ken front1.jpg

This morning I read about some motivational speaker who used rubber chickens in his presentations! I tried to imagine how I could work a rubber chicken into my lecture this coming Friday in Vernon, British Coumbia. My topic is “Back to Basics: The Genealogy Research Process” — absolutely nothing to do with poultry but the idea is interesting.How can you use props in teaching?
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Selling the Sizzle: Lecture Titles and Lecture Content

Ken front1.jpg

Recently as I reviewed the lecture offerings for the National Genealogical society Conference in Chicago I was thinking of a comment made by one of America’s leading genealogy educators in a discussion we had about my challenge breaking into the big leagues as a speaker. She suggested… Continue reading

Speaking Leads to Research Clients


I recently heard about a speaker at a conference who handed out his business cards at all the audience. Not only was it a nice touch, it provided everyone his contact information — easier to store than his handout materials.

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Speaker Tips: Talking Genealogy

Ken Aitken profile

I just discovered that BusinessWeek magazine’s Web site has an interesting but brief slide show on the “10 Worst Presentation Habits” ( Take a look. Perhaps you can yearn from someone’s errors, to be a better genealogy teacher or speaker.

More important, however is what you find on the bottom of the first page of the site – a link to the Best Business Communicators slide show. Go take a look at tell me if you think it has relevance for the genealogy teacher,speaker.

Taking a Cadillac to School


By now you know my delivery vehicle on sight.  Recently Professor Linda Main of San Jose State University invited me to take a spin in a Cadillac. San Jose State has moved into web-based instruction in a serious way and has invested in a web-based course-management system called Blackboard.  Let me tell you a bit about it.

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Musical Intro for Speakers

Red Maple Leaves.jpg It was a beautiful autumn afternoon in the Okanagan and as I walked home from school lost in a daydream, a strange idea crossed my mind: wouldn’t it be great if I had a sound track for my life. Perhaps I am closer to this than ever before.
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