Conference Countdown: #merylsNYSFHCpicks

When I'm gearing up for a conference, I love going through the conference schedule and picking out the sessions I'd like to attend. Sometimes there are several that I'd like to see, but they're scheduled at the same time. How do you choose between court records, maps, methodology, and DNA?! (Take a look at Friday at 9:45am to see what I'm talking about!)

I thought some of the blog's readers might be having similar dilemmas as they get ready for the New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown next week. To help others in a similar predicament, I'll be blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking about my top picks for sessions. Just click the hashtag #merylsNYSFHCpicks on social media to see all of my favorites leading up to the conference.

A Disclaimer

Now, the New York State Family History Conference is truly one of my favorite conferences out there:

  • It's small, which means you're less likely to miss out on the stuff you really want to do.

  • Most sessions are focused on a single topic (New York), so you can nerd out with a bunch of people who are interested in the same things you are.

  • And speaking of nerding out, there are long breaks between sessions--perfect for chatting with attendees and speakers.

My point is, you can't go wrong with anything on the schedule. They're all going to be interesting, informative, dynamic sessions taught by experts who really know their stuff. The goal behind #merylsNYSFHCpicks is to help those who are truly torn, as I usually am. The goal is not to place value judgments on one session versus another.

How to Decide?

When I'm deciding between two sessions (or more), I generally consider two things:

  1. The topic (naturally)

  2. The speaker

Like most people, I tend to gravitate towards talks on topics that I'm already interested in. However, I've had great experiences going to talks on topics that I knew nothing about--just for fun, or because the session had an interesting speaker. For example, at my first genealogy conference, I attended a talk on jury lists by Judy Russell, AKA The Legal Genealogist. I knew absolutely nothing about jury lists, let alone how they could help me with my research, but I came out learning a ton. Judy is also an excellent speaker (and very funny), which made it totally worthwhile.

What's another great way to decide between sessions? Take a look at the syllabus beforehand. Most genealogy conferences will send you a link to download the syllabus as a PDF beforehand. (The New York State Family History Conference also does this.) Sometimes I really like the description and speaker for a session, but I'm concerned that I might already know some of the material. (This, again, is one of the hazards of gravitating towards topics I'm already interested in.) By checking out the syllabus beforehand, I can get a preview of the key points in the lecture. Since it's generally more fun going to sessions where I'll learn the most, I tend to choose whichever has the most material that is new to me.

Hope this has helped you pick the conference sessions that you'll most enjoy at NYSFHC! And for those who are still vermischt (fuh-MISHTwhich more or less means "mixed up" in Yiddish), keep an eye out for #merylsNYSFHCpicks on Twitter and Facebook every day next week!