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

Recently I had a conference want to send me back on a flight the last day of the conference meaning I would miss it, that made me sad, also no breakfast included in the hotel, which can be stressful first thing in the morning, not something I need when i’m essentially working.

A speaker hit on me and then called me a bitch when I reminded him he is married. I never told anyone.

The Ladies that UX group in Durham was incredibly welcoming. They put me up in a nice hotel across the street from the venue with a bag full of local snacks and water. They stayed in touch over a couple of months just checking in to say they were looking forward to it and did I need anything. They also promoted the event really well so we had a packed house.

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.

One time at Agile Manchester I was due to speak, but was ill. I dragged myself there not really feeling up to it and this was pretty obvious to the organiser when I got there. Within 30m the organisers had arranged an alternate speaker, and sent me home. They still covered expenses, accommodation, etc.despite me not speaking.

Goodie bags with snacks when you arrive after a day of travel is so appreciated! Confab does an excellent job of this. Organizing a speaker dinner is a big plus as well.