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

I was at a conference where I was both required to upload my slides to the conference site well in advance and then give it to the AV person after my talk. It cut into the time I could answer questions from the audience.

Forcing speakers to use the conference laptop. Always a disaster. I will in fact refuse to speak at places that make me do this.

One conference, I lost my voice overnight, and had a presentation mid-afternoon. The organizers sent somebody out to get a pharmacopoeia of throat lozenges, cough suppressant, you name it, it was in the bag.

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.

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

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.