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

GoGaRuCo 2014 gave all speakers thank you cards, toiletry travel bags with our names on them, and also offered to connect our Uber accounts under their corporate account to make claiming travel easier. (I don’t like Uber, but it was an appreciated offer nonetheless!). GoGaRuCo were broadly super supportive of their speakers! Oh, and they had a speakers/organisers Green Room, which is useful for last minute preparation and zoning out.

At the first conference I talked at I wasn’t really welcomed. I just went to the room where I talked (which was very small, they could have told me) and set up my own laptop and didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. The talk went terrible because it made me even more nervous.

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.

In an invitation email I want to know why I, rather than some other expert, would be an important addition to the conference.

I hate draconian speaker contracts that make me personally liable if i can’t attend; I can’t sign a contract that binds my employer, and why would i risk my house when I get no personal benefit from speaking (because i don’t accept speaker fees; it’s my salaried job).

Midwest.io 2015 provided a ride to/from the hotel, a speaker dinner, let me see the venue before it was open, gave me some nice little gifts (legos, chocolates), and asked for open, honest feedback.