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.
It’s the small thoughtful things, like a car waiting from the airport to the hotel - this isn’t necessary at all - but it was really lovely. The same conference took all the speakers on a day trip after the conference which was also great.
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).
I was scheduled dead last on a Sunday night at 5pm (I know, someone has to do it)… not only did they do nothing to encourage people to stay, the organizers even started packing up the hall before I was done!
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.
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.
I found lunch/breaktime topic tables to be a fantastic way to connect with attendees. I also would like to see more office hours at conferences. Speaker dinners are really valuable too; I want to connect with notable people/mentors and once we are in the wild of the conference it’s hard to connect.