In September I had the opportunity to present "Getting Started Researching Your Jewish Ancestors" hosted by Legacy Family Tree Webinars. About a year ago I had approached Geoff Rasmussen about the possibility of giving a beginner's session as part of his weekly Free Webinar Wednesday. When he expressed interest I was thrilled. To reach a much broader audience than the typical twenty attendees at a society meeting was a very exciting prospect for me. Not to mention that I really wanted people to know that researching your Jewish ancestors is not an impossible task! Once the date was set I began to promote the webinar on my own website as well as on The In-Depth Genealogist's calendar of events. We signed a contract detailing how I would be paid for my presentation and earn extra on memberships and videos sold. That was a nice surprise as I was not even thinking about the money when I first approached Geoff.
I began to advertise on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I told friends and family. I was super excited and up until about a month out it had not even crossed my mind to be nervous about it! Roughly a month ahead of time I got a package in the mail that included a very nice headset for my computer. At the time I was quite puzzled since I had not ordered one (I had the exact same one already) and there was no other order information in the box. Finally, Thomas MacEntee clued me in. It was a perk of doing the webinar! Silly me! Once I checked with Geoff it was confirmed and I was relieved at knowing the source of the mystery package.
As we got closer to the webinar date I finessed the handouts available for download as part of the membership to the Legacy Family Tree Webinars. I had done a Legacy QuickGuide the year before and I borrowed heavily from that as content. Then came the hard part. Getting my presentation down to under an hour. Do you have any idea how hard it is to cover all the interesting aspects of Jewish genealogy without giving short shrift to anything? Oy vey it was tough. I kept rehashing the order of the topics and then when I thought I was content with it... I'd run through it... and revise it again. I had a test run with Geoff about a week before the presentation in order to make sure the connection was okay and he could hear me clearly and all was technically right. Smooth sailing!
Then a couple of really cool things happened. I started seeing promotion of my presentations on several Jewish genealogy email lists of which I am a member! OMG! My excitement was building as I heard that registrations for the webinar was over 800! Wow! Then I got an email from one of the leaders of JRI-Poland and he asked if we could Skype and talk about the webinar. Neat! As Stanley Diamond and I chatted it became clear to me that he was going to really inspire me. His knowledge and work in the area of Jewish genealogy is extensive and I appreciated his advice on handling some of the more difficult questions that I've had to deal with in previous presentations. Plus he shared with me the workings of JRI-Poland and I was so impressed with their efforts and success. I was pumped and ready to present!
The day that I was to present was a Wednesday and so I took the afternoon off work so that I could be home and ready to present. This was a big deal and I was so excited. I practiced my introduction on my drive home from the office and found myself singing a little "Fiddler on the Roof". I decided to incorporate a little singing into the presentation too. Ah fun! Once home I gathered my nerves and waited anxiously to get online to kick off the presentation. I get pretty nervous before any presentation and often have to remind myself to breath. This was no exception. Once Geoff introduced me and I started my presentation though-- the time flew by. Before I knew it I had finished the presentation and we were on to questions and answers! One challenging part of doing webinars is that you really don't know how the audience is reacting as you speak. When you speak at a society it is easy to gauge if you are explaining things well or if you have lost them along the way. It wasn't till the Q & A that I knew if I did okay or not. What a relief to hear that several folks found it helpful and they had renewed hope for researching their Jewish ancestors. Yay!
Once we were done I basked in the glow of a job well done. Reflecting back there were topics that I dug into and others that I didn't cover hardly at all. It happens. You forget some things and emphasize things you may not have felt were important at first. Regardless, I was pretty darn thrilled with how it went and really enjoyed it. Over the next few days I received a few emails from attendees saying that they had gotten a lot out of it. I also got emails from other Jewish researchers with recommendations of better ways to explain certain aspects. Lots of excellent feedback which I can incorporate in future presentations that I will give. I even got an email from Geoff that included all the comments that people had given regarding the webinar. Talk about an ego boost!
If you'd like to see the webinar you can order it through Legacy or you can take advantage of the hundreds of webinars that are recorded and available to members of the Legacy Family Tree Webinars site. It could be money well spent and you could learn a ton. Don't forget that Wednesdays are free! They are typically free for a week afterward and then they go members only. So check out the upcoming webinars!
Note: IDG is an affiliate of Legacy Family Tree and earns a small commission on memberships and sales through their site.