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.
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.
I am not really pro-swag, generally. Confab has fantastic attention to detail with their speaker gifts though. One year, they gave us engraved astronaut pens (their theme was space) with our names on them. I just thought the level of detail was insane. They always include handwritten notes in the speaker gift bag to say thanks.
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.
I have to say, although they are controversial on the subject of Codes of Conduct, I’ve had great experiences speaking at the conferences run by UIE (Jared Spool’s group). they do quite intensive speaker development with lots of feedback, and I’ve gotten a lot of value out of that. in addition, they market me - they know their audience and they take my talk summaries and craft them into marketing their audience will understand. it’s really helpful, and obviously more work than just having me send in a summary and putting it online without edits.
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.
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!