Will In-Person Genealogy Conferences Die? – BYU Conference Recap (Part 3)

Are genealogy conferences dying?

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 on the topic in light of the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy I attended in July 2017.

My answer is brief: I hope not.

Live genealogy conferences are important and fun because of the people. It’s always about 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 teach but didn’t choose that path early in life even though I felt an inner call to the profession.

#BYUFHConf Speaker 2017
So excited to be selected to present in 2017!

I am so glad BYU conference planners selected my three classes:

  • Stop Researching & Start Writing
  • Beginner’s Guide to Photography
  • Scrapbook Purposes & Possibilities

There were so many wonderful comments after each class, here’s a sampling:

  • After the end of the class, someone would come up to me and say, “Thank you so much! That is exactly what I needed to hear.” One woman’s husband loved my photography class for the possibility that he could finally convince her to downsize her sentimental collection. I hope that wife makes her husband happy and follows through.
  • Another woman in my scrapbooking class loved that I supported her feeling that she should record the ugly side of her personal story. I shared about the horrible feelings I felt after my mother died, and how I felt dirty and unworthy because of said emotions. Then I shared what I did to overcome the emotional pain. She felt a greater sense of hope following our conversation.
  • Another attendee taught me something. She scrapbooks her personal history in an A to Z encyclopedia format. I hope she’ll email me to explain further, but I LOVED the concept.
  • Another woman told me of a raw, recent, and harrowing trial she’s experiencing. We talked about how to write about it. She left with a brighter disposition based on my suggestions. That one conversation made the trip worth it. I pray she’ll follow my recommendations and find peace.
  • But a class member in my writing session blurted out that my tips (to that point) were worth the flight from DC and conference price! My friend, you’ve very welcome. I knew I needed to connect with someone through my Recipe for Writing Family History based lectures. I am so glad you felt the power.

To everyone who attended my workshops and felt I had helped them, thank you.  Thank you for coming to my classes and being open to the suggestion that I have and listening to my stories. I know I’m an energetic speaker, and sometimes a little “Southern Revival” to keep the energy high. That doesn’t seem normal in Mormon culture conferences. Some one said, “You’re enthusiastic!” I don’t know if that is a compliment or negative. I’m going to go for the positive. Yes, I’m not a soft-spoken, stoic presenter. I can project my voice to keep you awake when the after lunch sedation kicks in. I move around the room. I ask for your interaction throughout the session. More often than not, class attendees are glad of it.

BYU Family History Conference 2017
A BYU Conference Attendee who enjoyed my class at
stopped by my booth to say hi!

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 conference 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, be sure to visit my Speaker’s Page. You can even have my husband and I come out! We love teaching together.

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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