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

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.

Finding out at the last minute that my talk slot is longer (or shorter) than I’d expected is frustrating & difficult.

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).

A negative experience was when I was keynote speaker at one event. Wasn’t paid, had to arrange own travel and accommodation at own expense.

What does it cost to speak?

  • In the past, I had to take time off to speak ($700/day)
  • Meals & drinks ($150/day)
  • Airport Parking ($100/trip)

Myself and two other speakers were harassed at the pre-conference party, as well as several other times throughout the conference. We spoke to the conference organizers and they agreed to meet, but the entire conversation was not productive. They dismissed our report of harassment by the male attendee because “he is a good guy and has a family and didn’t mean it that way.