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’m shy and nervous around people I don’t know and in places I’ve never visited – especially if I don’t speak the local language. I really appreciate it when the organizers facilitate getting to know the area and also meeting other speakers who are there. Help me figure out public transportation.

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!).

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.

Essential parts of the speaker package are travel (all or most of the cost), at least two nights at the hotel, conference ticket and lunch. I have made a few exceptions in the past, but am doing that less often now. These things must be offered upfront. I shouldn’t have to “beg” for it or apply for financial aid.

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).

At Front Trends, I had a SIM card in my welcome package! Super useful as a foreign / visiting speaker from another country when you arrived jet lagged and need to just tell your family that you have arrived.