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.
A negative experience was when I was keynote speaker at one event. Wasn’t paid, had to arrange own travel and accommodation at own expense.
ArrrCamp 2015 – My train was involved in an accident while I was on the way to the airport in Brussels. I pinged the conference organizers on twitter and they called the airline to notify them of the issue, and were extremely helpful when it came to any other travel assistance I needed.
Having a panel at the end of the day keeps the speakers around, so doing that helps ensure speakers are around for the “hallway track. Also, the “sit down” meals should have round tables. Long tables aren’t as conducive. Sit down lunch is a must.
Lanyards in the hotel room on arrival - I don’t really need a swag bag, it’s an amazing gesture, don’t get me wrong, but to not have to worry about getting my lanyard on the day is great.
The best speaker gifts have been those that proved useful later. One conference I’ve been to has been held in winter months, and I have a scarf and a beanie from them that I wear still years later. Another provided panel speakers with a portable travel battery that can power my phone several times; that’s been stellar.
I’ve never spoken to organizers about a problem. It’s such a small community and I wouldn’t want to endanger my ability to speak.