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

O’Reilly Fluent paid for my flight change fees to go home a day early because my daughter was ill. Beyond Tellerand provided handwritten personal note in my room, along with a package of special gifts arranged with some of the sponsors. Really felt valued.

I think timings are important. Recently a speakers dinner I attended was started at 9pm the night before the conference, we all tried our hardest to get back to the hotel as early as we could, but it wasn’t before midnight.

It can have a negative impact on my talk when A/V people are being really aggressive about setting up my laptop, I usually know more than they do about how to adjust settings.

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).

Stop giving me wasteful speaker gifts - I leave them in the hotel and feel guilty: Olive oil, maple syrup, wine, a 300-lb hardcover book All are nice ideas but they cannot go in my suitcase.

If you want to give me a speaker gift, give me: A charger, A battery, A spare Kensington clicker.

I’ve had a conference where I requested very clearly that I needed internet access for my workshop, not provide it at the last minute. they apologized, but it was really tough to scramble through.