MSGenWeb Guidelines for Planning a Successful Seminar
Planning a Successful Seminar
A. Begin planning early.
closely with a local genealogy/historical society, library, or
other responsible group that will sponsor the event. Designate
one MSGenWeb spokesperson to communicate regularly with the
early on whether there will be any reimbursement for
MSGenWeb volunteers, such as transportation, lodging, etc.
(Generally not, but can depend on the circumstances that led to
date/time/length of seminar as early as possible.
early, but not until you are certain you can follow through.
II. Local Group Responsibilities
A. Provides and makes ready the facility.
MSGenWeb will need to know seating
capacity and arrangement, and technical capabilities (equipment,
screen, electrical outlets, sound system, etc.), and when access may
be gained to the facility to set up. (Day before? Morning of?)
what food/refreshments will be served or available.
whether any door prize(s) will be awarded.
E. Sets fees
and handles registrations and bookkeeping.
Determines whether pre-registration
is mandatory, or pay-at-door accepted and optional.
III. MSGenWeb Responsibilities
speaker(s) and helpers
topic(s) unless a particular topic or range of topics has
been agreed to by both parties.
Absent a pre-set topic or series of
topics, issue a call for MSGenWeb volunteer speakers. In the event
there is an abundance of volunteers, ask the local group to select topics
they feel would be of most interest to the guests.
day-of-event handouts, worksheets, presentation material
(Power Point, etc.)
Generally the type and design of the
material is up to the speaker, enlisting the aid of other MSGenWeb
volunteers to assist with formatting, printing, etc., when needed.
D. Blocks out
Sets breaks, order, and time for each speaker, in accordance with
time allocated for the seminar. In a day-long event, the local group
generally will have arranged for a specific lunch time. That leaves
two major sessions, morning and afternoon. One 15-20 minute
break is recommended for each session, but breaks
may be determined by the number of speakers, or length of
individual lectures or workshops. It is recommended that guests
be invited to stretch, obtain refreshments, etc., at any time they feel
helper(s) to greet guests and provide them with handouts.
individual to introduce each speaker.
Speakers should provide the
introducer with a brief bio so the introducer can develop a proper and brief
G. Provides timer
to help keep speakers on schedule
In the absence of an electronic
timing device, individual timer should be seated in a pre-arranged position
in the room, easily visible to the speakers, but not obvious to guests.
Timer may use hand gestures or cards to signal the time. Timer may
also signal speaker to lengthen talk, if running ahead of schedule.
H. Provides name tags
for MSGenWeb volunteers.
A. Choice of
Work with the local group to
determine the needs of the guests they wish to attract, as well as any
topics they would prefer. Some groups may be looking for a variety of
topics, while others may prefer subjects that tie in to one another more
closely. Since we are an online research project, try to create a tie
in to online-research with each topic.
To a large degree, the subjects will be
dependent upon which MSGenWeb volunteer speakers can attend, and which topics
they are comfortable with. Some speakers may be able to deliver complex
advanced talks, while others may prefer to stick to basics. Depending on
the facility and the number of MSGenWeb volunteers, parallel sessions may be
considered, beginner and advanced, so guests may choose.
B. Planning For
the Unexpected - Remember Murphy's Law!
1. Speaker informs you at last minute that he/she will be unable to
a. Ideal, but not always possible: Arrange in advance for one
person to be on stand-by.
b. Quickly recruit a fill-in speaker familiar with the subject.
c. Ask all speakers to prepare for longer talks if necessary to
fill a gap. (Three speakers extending 10 minutes each will cover
d. Extend Q&E or hands-on workshop time.
e. Extend honest apology to guests, citing reason, if not too
personal, for the absence of the speaker.
2. Introducer or Timer
forced to cancel at last minute
Designate in advance a backup person for each
3. Equipment failure.
Can't run our Power Point
a. It is strongly recommend that the presentations and
equipment be used in a run-thru session the night before
Ask speakers to prepare their lectures so they can
solely on notes or handouts if necessary.
c. Recruit MSGenWeb volunteers to bring whatever
equipment they may have that can be used as backup.
d. Designate one MSGenWeb volunteer to work with the
group to make sure proper equipment is available,
that the material is compliant with the equipment.
4. But I thought we'd
only need *50* handouts!
a. The gen society or the library might be able to help,
your best friend is the nearest Kinkos or Office
Office Mart, etc. Determine in advance where
are, and their hours of operation.
b. Print more than you think you'll need. You can leave
extras with the genealogy society or library after the
C. Bring a Little Humor
Seminar guests aren't bargaining for comedy hour, but an
occasional injection of humor perks everyone up, and makes for a
pleasant and memorable day.
D. Involve the Guests
1. Provide hand-outs so guests can follow the talk and take notes.
2. Enlist the assistance of guests in demonstrations.
3. Provide work-sheets. Allow guests to practice or "problem
4. Allow for and encourage Q&E.
E. Getting Organized Upon Arrival
1. Arrange if possible for out of town MSGenWeb volunteers to stay
at or near the same hotel/motel. Most facilities offer attractive
2. Arrive in town the day before the seminar, if possible, and plan a
casual get-acquainted dinner at a local restaurant for that
3. Designate one person with whom MSGenWeb volunteers can
contact upon arrival.
4. Plan a brief meeting before or after the get-acquainted dinner to
collate handouts if needed, test presentation files, and confirm
the seminar schedule. Make sure everyone knows where the
facility is located, and has transportation. Use this time to make
changes due to last minute cancellations or problems.
F. Relax and have fun!
1. Seminar guests are researchers just like the rest of us! We
sometimes learn from one another.
Plan a "celebration" dinner for the MSGenWeb volunteers after
the seminar, and a next-morning breakfast/brunch for those still
available. Invite the local group (or leadership) to attend the
Please contact the MSGenWeb State Coordinator regarding questions, suggestions, or comments about this website.
Jeff Kemp - State Coordinator
Ann Allen Geoghegan -
Assistant State Coordinator
Denise Wells - Assistant State Coordinator
Ann Geoghegan - Special Projects Manager
Gayle Triller - Welcoming Group
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Last updated Thursday, 02-Sep-2010 12:55:49 EDT