Feedback Needed – Can You Assist?


[Editor's note: We received the following request from our friends at Here is an opportunity to provide needed feedback and help improve Ancestry's products and services.]

Ancestry needs your help!! We’re looking for Ancestry enthusiasts to provide feedback on some new concepts on the website experience.

Member feedback has always been vital to our product development and Ancestry has recently expanded its User Research team, and we want to talk to you! Based in both Provo and San Francisco, sessions would typically last an hour either online or in person if you’re local. We are happy to get your input on existing and new experiences across both the website and mobile.  Participants will have a few different incentives to choose from, such as the latest edition of FTM for Windows or Mac!

If you are interested in applying for participation, please drop us a line at

We have some in-person opportunities at RootsTech to kickoff this expanded initiative.

RootsTech Opportunities

Starting this February at RootsTech, we will be conducting sessions on Thursday (2/6) and Friday (2/7). There are two ways you could participate:

  • One of two, 90 minute focus groups from 4:30 – 6:00 PM each day, where we will look specifically at the Profile Page of people in your tree to understand both how you currently use it and what new features that you’d love to see incorporated. You will be asked to pull up interesting people in your tree and share with the Research team and the 4 or 5 other subscribers in the group.
  • A 50 minute, one-to-one interview session with a member of the Product Research team who will walk you through some new concepts and get your input. We will be conducting 7 sessions at different times during the day on Thursday and Friday. Follow the link below to select your preferred times.

To participate in either RootsTech research session type, you need an account with a tree. To be considered, please fill out this survey, so that we can confirm your participation and set up scheduling.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Tips for RootsTech Presenters

Tips for RootsTech Presenters

I won’t be attending RootsTech 2014 this year due to previously scheduled speaking commitments: the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise to be exact. But several new speakers for this year’s event have asked me to share my tips and tricks on presenting at RootsTech.

I have been delivering genealogy and family history related content as in-person lectures as well as webinars for over five years now. And in my previous career, I often had to present to audiences ranging from three people to 3,000. And you name it, it has happened to me during a talk: equipment breakdown, equipment caught on fire, fire alarm in hotel, hotel caught on fire, etc. I even had a “serial stripper” disrobe in the back of the room during one of my talks.

So here are some tips and tricks, many of which are applicable to any genealogy speaking venue:

  • Know your presentation. And I mean totally know it – with your eyes closed and no notes. Rehearse and practice, but in a way that allows you to be flexible. It is better to know all the concepts and be able to add/remove content and comments as needed due to technical issues or time restrictions.
  • One minute per slide. The formula I use is one minute of talking time per slide. Allow 2-3 minutes for an intro and then remember that you need time for Q&A. So you have maybe 47 minutes total for a standard “hour long” presentation.
  • Don’t fear the big stage. If your talk is being live-streamed at RootsTech, you’ll likely be appearing on the same big stage as the key note speakers. With music. And lights so bright that you can’t see the audience. Don’t panic. You’ve got this. Treat this presentation as no different than one in front of your genealogy society of 20 people back home. Your love of genealogy and your topic will shine through.
  • Greet attendees at the door. If time permits – after you’ve set up your slides and tested audio equipment – stand at the front door and thank people for attending. Stop by the front row and ask attendees why they find your topic interesting. Understand the expectations of your audience and then be flexible and make adjustments to your presentation related to the feedback.
  • Have multiple backups of your slides. Seriously. Like five backups all over the place: Dropbox, flash drive, on your laptop, email, etc.  Stuff happens and it will happen. You should always have access to your slides no matter what.
  • Use a flash drive. Place your notes and talk on a flash drive. Many venues, like RootsTech, don’t allow you to use your own laptop or tablet. Check and verify the presentation requirements before you arrive at the speaking venue.
  • Test your presentation on a different computer. If you’ve used funky fonts or linked to files on your computer, guess what? It is likely those items won’t work on the computer provided by the speaking venue. Copy your presentation to a flash drive and then do a test run on another computer, not the one where you created the presentation.
  • Display your contact info on a slide. At the end of your presentation have a slide with your name and your email address. Many times attendees will want to send you not just feedback, but ideas that you can incorporate to your presentation. Also, I’ve been able to secure future speaking engagements from an attendee who sits on the board of a genealogy society or organization.
  • Relax and enjoy. The time will go by faster than you realize; live in the moment. Enjoy the time spent with your audience. Take mental notes as to what worked and what didn’t work. Remember those audience questions and work them into the next version of the presentation.

Photo: Public Speaking, used via Creative Commons license.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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