Will In-Person Genealogy Conferences Die?


Are in-person genealogy conferences dying?


That's a question Amy Johnson Crow posted in 2016. After a recent round of complaints following the FGS conference in early September, I reviewed my own thoughts.


My answer is brief: I hope not.

Live genealogy conferences are relevant and super fun because of the people. It's always about the people. The people you meet or catch up with again. Any in-person conference that remembers to focus on the connections participants make will continue to be more successful now and in the future.


The beauty of in-person conferences is connecting with attendees. There are more people in genealogy than the folks who blog about it zealously! The reason why I go to genealogy conferences, especially as a speaker, is to impact people and change their lives.


I love teaching. I think I was born to educate. I didn't choose that path early in life, even though I felt an inner call to the profession.

As an educator, I often hear stories one-on-one that folks rarely reveal through online workshops. Here are a few examples.


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Validation in Trials


On attendee pulled me aside to tell me how thankful she was for my workshop for an off-hand comment that I made (which often happens in live events). That unintended comment supported her feeling that she should record the ugly side of her personal story.


One-on-one, I will share my own inner thoughts that I'd never share online. We hugged, and both felt a greater sense of hope following our conversation.


Some people can make such moments happen virtually, but they are an exception rather than the norm.


Emotional Support


Another time, a woman pulled me aside to speak to me privately. She shared the details of her raw, recent, and heartbreaking trial that she's struggling with.


We talked about using family history research and writing to document and process the pain and find healing. I know I have. She left with a brighter disposition based on my suggestions.


These private conversations make attending and teaching at conferences worth the travel and headache to attend. These conversations rarely happen online.


What Can't Come Across Online


As a speaker, I have discovered many teach techniques I can not do online as I share my training.


For one, I'm an energetic speaker who looks into my audience's eyes and creates an engaging experience. Sometimes, you might feel like you're at a "Southern Revival" wanting to say, "Praise the Lord" or "Amen."


I can see if light bulbs are going off in my participants' minds and adapt my explanations to encourage learning. Virtual experiences (even with Zoom meetings were I can see you) do not offer the same feedback between speakers and attendees.



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Will in-person genealogy conferences die out?


Yes, they will when two things happen:

  1. Conferences forget to focus on the people (speakers and attendees)

  2.  When speakers are boring and fail to connect heart to heart

I'm looking forward to my next round of conferences and local workshops where I can keep connecting with you.


Check out my list of Upcoming Events to see what I'll be teaching next and where.


If you're interested in having me come out to your conference, visit my Speaker's Page.

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