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

DockerCon – speakers had private wifi in the speakers’ lounge while preparing and rehearsing for talks.

The conference organizers did not tell me upfront that I am not able to use my laptop on stage and my material needs to be passed to the A/V crew. As it turned out the AV crew expected a ppt presentation file which I could not provide since I use a html5 presentation kit. “Fixing” these kinds of issues right before hitting the stage sucks.

Concat 2015 – By far the best experience as a speaker. The smallest details were thought of and taken care of, which was appreciated since many of the speakers were international and didn’t speak German. A small example is that on the day of the conference, the organizers had already purchased tickets for the train to the venue, and they were waiting at the front desk for us. Eliminating small stresses like that make it much easier to focus on speaking and providing valuable content. Concat was also incredibly inclusive – gender neutral bathrooms, a clear code of conduct, ability to opt-out of photographs, and tampons in the bathroom.

Endpoint conf organizers paid for an extra night at the hotel as they didn’t have to pay the full price for my flight (I managed to an existing route). They also let my brother (who joined me) join the speakers dinner and gave him a ticket to the conference and breakfast at the hotel!

At some small community events because they are in bars, attendees gather around tables which makes it hard for a visiting speaker to sit as everybody is in groups where they all know each other (especially if you’re a bit nervous and shy like me!).

RubyC in Kiev picked me up from the train station and generally made sure one of their team was on hand at all meal times to help with translations (English in Ukraine isn’t as common as in western Europe).