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

Having a panel at the end of the day keeps the speakers around, so doing that helps ensure speakers are around for the “hallway track. Also, the “sit down” meals should have round tables. Long tables aren’t as conducive. Sit down lunch is a must.

EmpireJS organizers were really great. They put up themed posters, 1 per speaker, with the speaker’s face on them it, on an easel on the day each speaker was up. It was fun to get to take a selfie with a poster of myself! They also gave speakers copies of the posters as keepsakes. Very silly & fun & appreciated.

I have had to cover additional hotel nights, if I take the time to travel and speak I prefer to stay the entire length of the conference at least.

One event would only pay for the cheapest airfare for a long-haul international flight–to fly on my preferred group of airlines, I had to cover $400 myself.

I think there’s a churn where people speak for free, do it for a bit/get popular, then either a) get sick of it and stop or b) start getting paid to do it. Doing it for free is NOT SUSTAINABLE. I’ve noticed many confs extending their CFPs and that can only mean one thing: they’re getting fewer quality proposals.

It’s the small thoughtful things, like a car waiting from the airport to the hotel - this isn’t necessary at all - but it was really lovely. The same conference took all the speakers on a day trip after the conference which was also great.