Selling the Sizzle: Lecture Titles and Lecture Content

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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…

that the bottom line to drawing a crowd is to give them what they want–or at least title the lecture so they think its what they want, but then within that topic deliver not only what the title promises, but also the information they really need but do not realize yet.

Mulling that over, I realized that some of the best lectures I’ve heard do this. Consider an example from a recent conference. Tom Jones spoke on “Solving Problems with Original Sources”.  I am not sure what Tom’s main message was, but tucked with this lecture was a careful explanation of the Genealogical Proof Standard, an overview of  original records, not microfilmed, not digitized that need to be viewed in the archives, and eight examples of cases where this  worked. It could have been called something tiresome like “Doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search” which was his message to me. Instead he looked at where people are, and proposed a title that would draw them in and take them where he knew they needed to go.  Now dig out that NGS Chicago program and look for titles that start with where you are.

Share what you find. It will be interesting in June to look back and see if the real message of the lecture  is a both a fulfillment of the promise of the title, and and pushes your lesarning in unexpected directions.

Your comments are always welcome.

So think about this idea as you construct titles, and lectures.

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