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

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!

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.

A speaker hit on me and then called me a bitch when I reminded him he is married. I never told anyone.

The best event I’ve spoken at was small but the organiser paid all speakers, covered travel and organised all accommodation and the meal and breakfast beforehand which really helped reduce stress - I could just turn up and not worry about finding somewhere to get dinner and breakfast the next day.

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.

Myself and two other speakers were harassed at the pre-conference party, as well as several other times throughout the conference. We spoke to the conference organizers and they agreed to meet, but the entire conversation was not productive. They dismissed our report of harassment by the male attendee because “he is a good guy and has a family and didn’t mean it that way.