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

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)

For my first conference, I arrived at my hotel feeling like an imposter and a small welcome pack a note from the organisers made me feel really welcome and at home.

An after party was far away. It was a 40 minute cab ride. I was put in a van with strangers. Two of whom proceeded to make “jokes” about sexually harassing topics. I finally said that’s a CoC violation and hey yo it’s time to knock that off. They blithely ignored me. I was trapped physically and financially in the van. I didn’t even have my wallet, and had no idea what the destination address was. I was trapped, and unsure as whether to also be scared of what could happen next.

A speaker hit on me and then called me a bitch when I reminded him he is married. I never told anyone.

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.

I spoke at a conference in Moscow, and was told that transport from the airport had been organised , but the organisers took too long to reply, I spent 2 hours in the airport with other speakers trying to figure out what we were supposed to do.