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.

Speakers Said

The communication of the conference organisers of Frontend Conf Zurich was amazing. Two weeks before the conference they sent a reminder with all my travel details in it and a 9-page speaker briefing pdf. In it was everything I needed: Contact information, how to get to the hotel, how public transport works (very important), audience type, and a lot more info. I was also picked up from the airport and guided to the hotel in the metro. My girlfriend was coming along, and she also got a free ticket to the event. And finally they had a preparation room with a beamer, which was very convenient.

I dislike being told late that slides are 16:9 resolution/ must be CC-licensed, as I write my decks early.

I have had to cover additional hotel nights, if I take the time to travel and speak I prefer to stay the entire length of the conference at least.

I was part of a lineup which included only one woman speaker. Raised it to organiser who was surprised it was even an issue.

I found out at the last minute that conference organizers planned to livestream the whole conference; I don’t publish my work online without checking the quality first, so this was an awkward surprise. Now I always ask before accepting speaker invitations, because conference organizers are starting to treat this as a default option (without considering that the treatment of women online might make some of us really hesitate before publishing videos of ourselves).

RubyConf AU 2014 offered to pick up all speakers from the airport (or from their homes if they were locals) - something we continued in future years (I was part of the 2015 team).