Organizing & Speaking at Tech Conferences
About this site
I’m Rachel Andrew - a web developer, author and frequent speaker. I presented at ConfConf - a conference for conference organizers - in May 2016. I was asked to talk about what speakers needed to help them have a great conference and be their best at the event. As I didn’t want the talk to be all about what I personally like, I opened up a survey.
The results of that survey were enlightening to me as well as for the conference organizers who heard that talk. I felt that the things people had shared deserved a wider audience than the people at that conference so the bulk of the content on this site is quotes taken from that survey. I’ve edited only to anonymize comments, and have chosen to only “name names” when the story is a positive one - giving credit where it is due.
The organizers of OpenWest really went out of their way to be available to speakers and help with anything we needed - one detail that stands out is that they went and bought a coffee maker for the speaker lounge even though none of the organizers and most of the attendees didn’t partake of caffeine (it was in Utah).
I’ve had a ton of great experiences. Organizers are saints in my book.
Finding out at the last minute that my talk slot is longer (or shorter) than I’d expected is frustrating & difficult.
At some small community events because they are in bars, attendees gather around tables which makes it hard for a visiting speaker to sit as everybody is in groups where they all know each other (especially if you’re a bit nervous and shy like me!).
If the conference is making money from tickets, I expect speakers to be paid relative to their experience, the ticket price, and number of attendees. Travel coverage and hotel is also an expectation in this case. If the conference is non-profit or small, these things are negotiable.
I was scheduled dead last on a Sunday night at 5pm (I know, someone has to do it)… not only did they do nothing to encourage people to stay, the organizers even started packing up the hall before I was done!