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.
I was part of a lineup which included only one woman speaker. Raised it to organiser who was surprised it was even an issue.
I enjoy speaker dinners, but the most successful ones have ensured they were in small venues with little background noise; when the venue is noisy, the conversation is much more difficult, lessening the impact of the experience. The best venues have been where they booked the entire restaurant, or had a private room, with easily the toppers being the Atomium in Brussels and the Space Needle in Seattle.
NSConf met speakers at the Heathrow airport and drove us all directly to the conference hotel; we didn’t have to try to find our way around a strange country before we had cell data, and were able to just focus on our talks & the conference.
Recently I had a conference want to send me back on a flight the last day of the conference meaning I would miss it, that made me sad, also no breakfast included in the hotel, which can be stressful first thing in the morning, not something I need when i’m essentially working.
Speaker rooms help speakers to get to know one another. In any case, we all need a quiet place to test our equipment, tweak our slides and recharge our batteries, literally and figuratively.
I’ve had a ton of great experiences. Organizers are saints in my book.