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.
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 dislike it if speaker dinner is same night as attendee party so i can’t meet audience.
I don’t have a credit card. So whenever confs are “It’s cool. Just charge it and we’ll reimburse you” I have to awkwardly go to a colleague/open source friend/childhood friend/someone (I’m not close with my family) and beg them to drop $3k on their card for a while until the conf reimburses me.
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 love speaker dinners and various parties. Knowing that there are planned opportunities for networking makes it more pleasant. There are way too many conferences to choose from, so I might as well choose those that are fun.
The organizers of OpenWest really went out of their way to be available to speakers and help with anything we needed - one detail that stands out is that they went and bought a coffee maker for the speaker lounge even though none of the organizers and most of the attendees didn’t partake of caffeine (it was in Utah).