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.
The best speaker gifts have been those that proved useful later. One conference I’ve been to has been held in winter months, and I have a scarf and a beanie from them that I wear still years later. Another provided panel speakers with a portable travel battery that can power my phone several times; that’s been stellar.
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!
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.
DockerCon – speakers had private wifi in the speakers’ lounge while preparing and rehearsing for talks.
I brought up something with organizers once (an attendee didn’t seem dangerous, just a little lecherous) and they waved it off with “oh, him–he’s a nice guy, just confused”.
I was speaking at a conference with tiered speaker perks. So speakers would ask me if I was going to an event and I would be surprised and embarrassed to say I didn’t know anything about it.