With the excitement and selection of educational opportunities, it’s taken some time for me to collect my RootsTech Connect 2021 afterthoughts.
Let’s look at all four aspects of the conference and the experiences of both long-time RootsTechers and newbies. (Read more about that in Now for Something Completely Different–Rootstech Connect 2021).
RootsTech Connect 2021 Afterthoughts about the Main Stage
Keynote speakers had different approaches to storytelling that illustrated the theme, “We are all connected.” The main stage was live for 24 hours a day for three days.
RootsTech Newbies’ Standpoint
I asked several of my friends who had never attended RootsTech in person, how they felt about the keynote segments. Without hesitation, they all said they enjoyed them and found them inspirational.
RootsTech Veteran’s Standpoint
Conference organizers made strong arguments that, at its heart, RootsTech Connect 2021 would be no different that attending an in-person conference. However, those of us who have experienced the excitement of hearing speakers like LeVar Burton, Dan Snow, Brandon Stanton, or David Hume Kennerly couldn’t help but make comparisons.
I missed the excitement of the lights, emcees, and seeing people I know from around the globe. At the same time, I appreciated the ability to watch in my jammies and not pay for hotels or airfare.
Rootstech Connect 2021 Expo Hall
Both my newbie friends and I thought the Expo Hall was well thought out and attendees had ample opportunity to chat with vendors.
I suspect that this is the hardest part to recreate virtually. A lot of us wander through the expo hall, waiting for something to catch our attention. We also like swag-collecting. I hope that as people become accustomed to the virtual platform, there will be more chit-chat with vendors rather than serious Q & A. Many times, in person, we slow down and wave and say, “love using your product.”
Sessions and Guide Me
Seven-hundred-and ninety-four sessions is a lot.
The shorter sessions were great for newcomers. It made it so much easier to dive into a topic. Plus, you didn’t have to pick or choose. You can add as many sessions to your playlist as you want, and they will remain available for a year.
As a veteran, I found the “guide me” feature only somewhat helpful. I would have loved more search filters. In addition, separating the twenty-minute education sessions separated from the 5-minute tips would have made it less overwhelming.
As a presenter, I wondered how people would find my sessions. It took a lot of paging through results for me to find the topics I was looking for. That they will all be out there for a year is a great win for any virtual attendee.
So far as the quality of the sessions presented in a shorter format, I had no complaints. I think the presenters narrowed the scope of presentations rather than rushing through the materials.
Like always, this is where RootsTech Connect 2021 shined. Yup, even with upwards to a half-million registrations, RootsTech promoted and enabled personal connections.
The chat feature was outstanding from my perspective, particularly for the sessions. You could ask questions and compare notes with other attendees, much more than I think would happen at the in-person conference.
Chatting with friends was also possible. We created a group for GeneaBloggers and people dropped in and talked.
A lot of the FamilySearch crew referred to the website as being built while it was flown. Though there were some minor flaws, it worked. I can’t imagine what refinements they’ll be able to come up with for future years.
FamilySearch is looking back and collecting their own RootsTech Connect 2021 afterthoughts. I’m sure next year will bring surprising improvements.
Some interviews and keynotes came off better than others. For instance, Elizabeth Miller’s interview of Erick Avari was awesome. During other presentations, there were technical difficulties, or the interview dynamic was not as smooth.
We attendees need to learn more about using and interacting on this new virtual platform as well. Though we may return to Salt Lake City in 2022, I doubt FamilySearch will let go of the 500,000 online attendees. The virtual side to the conference is probably here to stay.
What are your RootsTech Connect 2021 afterthoughts? What did you love? Miss? Not like at all?
Image Credits: All RootsTech Connect logos and graphics used with permission, ©FamilySearch.
 Amy Archibald, “Getting the Most Out of RootsTech Connect 2021,” FamilySearch blog, February 23, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/rootstech-connect-2021-how-to/.