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.
RubyConf AU 2014 offered to pick up all speakers from the airport (or from their homes if they were locals) - something we continued in future years (I was part of the 2015 team).
A way to meet other speakers is helpful if you are somewhere not local. Speakers dinners usually address this, but I have been to conferences where they haven’t had speakers dinners and it’s been tricky being in a hotel room by yourself not knowing anyone.
The best event I’ve spoken at was small but the organiser paid all speakers, covered travel and organised all accommodation and the meal and breakfast beforehand which really helped reduce stress - I could just turn up and not worry about finding somewhere to get dinner and breakfast the next day.
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.
Organisers who don’t know what resolution their projector is in advance and don’t have enough video dongles have ruined my day a few times.
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.