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’ve never spoken to organizers about a problem. It’s such a small community and I wouldn’t want to endanger my ability to speak.

An event didn’t tell me that they were only covering the 3 nights of the conference (though they agreed to book me 4 nights at the hotel). It was a fancy hotel, too, so I got a $350 bill on checkout.

I’ve had a few conferences where inadequate A/V facilities were present - stuff where the room was small, so they chose to eliminate the microphone, or the projector was on a normal-sized wall, and essentially un-viewable from mid-way through the room and back.

Web Directions gave me a super high-quality water bottle that I still use. It’s right next to me now.

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.

The best speaker gifts have been those that proved useful later. One conference I’ve been to has been held in winter months, and I have a scarf and a beanie from them that I wear still years later. Another provided panel speakers with a portable travel battery that can power my phone several times; that’s been stellar.