Friday, May 6, 2011

Totally Random Thoughts on Attending Conferences

This week at GeneaBloggers the discussion is all about conferences.  Today's specific topic is asking for comments from attendees on what they would like to see at conferences.

Thomas MacEntee and Randy Seaver have provided some very well thought out comments and suggestions on their blogs.  I don't think my thoughts are going to be quite so organized.

Here are some random thoughts:

  • I would like to see a GeneaBloggers Lounge and more focus on helping bloggers meet at conferences.  

  • I would love to see an empty room set aside with a sign-up schedule much in the way RootsTech had impromptu mini-sessions.  I would love to see speakers with the same interests be able to meet together with conference attendees to more thoroughly get into a discussion of a topic.

  • I want to see more technology and writing topics at conferences.  I'd also like to see talks on how to transfer your research into another form that can be shared - whether that be a book, scrapbooking, multi-media cd, etc.

  • I would like conferences to focus more on distributing information through all venues such as email, twitter, Facebook,website etc so that I can be sure that the way I prefer to receive information is covered.

  • I want to know about internet access fees, parking fees and other items like this clearly and prominently available before I make reservations.

  • I would like to see the daily newsletter/event list published each day on the conference blog and fed out to Facebook and twitter.

  • I think it would be fun if conference attendees could submit "tags" during registration to share their interests so that they could connect with other attendees during the conference that have the same interests.

  • Wouldn't it be great if there were a central system so that conference attendees could walk up to a computer and type in a question, whether specific to research or to conference details, and be able to get a response to their question from anyone else at the conference?

  • Likewise, it would be nice if there were a hospitality computer, where attendees could stop and see videos of the local area, local repositories or look up information on local restaurants.  I know you are thinking the internet.  But I'm thinking that local businesses might be willing to create videos such as these if asked.

  • I'd like to see more virtual/live streaming conferences so that people like me who can't travel to national conferences much can participate without leaving home.
  • I'd like more unopposed exhibitor time so I can actually get through an exhibit hall and see everything and talk to all the vendors.

  • I'd like to see more exhibitors writing about their conference experience and their products on their blogs they way Mel Wolfgang of Jonathan Sheppard Books does so that I can see what they have to offer before I arrive. 

I could go on and on but I think that's enough for now.

Tell me what you want to see from conferences!


  1. Good points Marian. I agree with them all especially having more time to visit vendors. There is also the challenge of concurrent sessions that one would like to attend. I would like more options to purchase the audio or video of a session we couldn't get to because we were were in another session.

    Another challenge is to have adequate wifi connections all through the conference rooms and vendor hall. I know it is expensive but being connected benefits all by increasing exposure to genealogy. We can tweet and facebook highlights and share with those that can't attend.

  2. Ditto, ditto, ditto. I am still looking forward to a F2F meetup one day. You have some great ideas here.

  3. Excellent suggestions; I hope that at least some of these are implemented at various conferences.

  4. What great ideas, Marian! I especially like the idea of a Geneabloggers Lounge and other ways to connect with people. I find that making personal connections, both with other attendees and with presenters and vendors, is one of the most satisfying components of a conference.

  5. Creative and well thought out suggestions! I especially love the "tags" idea. I know the Czechoslovak GS will have an area for people to meet up with others from the same ancestral areas at their October Conference.

  6. I've enjoyed reading your ideas on this interesting topic. I've mentioned your post on my Genealogy Leftovers blog in 'Attending Genealogy Conferences', where I talked about why I love genealogy conferences, how organisers can entice me to attend, how I save money, cheaper accommodation, etc.