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.
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.
Finding out at the last minute that my talk slot is longer (or shorter) than I’d expected is frustrating & difficult.
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.
I’ve had a few conferences where inadequate A/V facilities were present - stuff where the room was small, so they chose to eliminate the microphone, or the projector was on a normal-sized wall, and essentially un-viewable from mid-way through the room and back.
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.
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.