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

Tech conferences that don’t have a separate wifi network for speakers during presentations – usually live coding demos – are providing a bad experience for speakers and attendees, because network issues are disruptive during a talk.

So much strain on family that it causes my wife to forbid future conference talks (she softened this stance when the talk lead to paid work). Hard to quantify childcare costs when you have a spouse at home, she shoulders most of the additional burden & there’s not a dollar figure on it. If I had to pay for the childcare in cash it’s unlikely I’d ever put together an unpaid conference talk.

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.

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)

At the first conference I talked at I wasn’t really welcomed. I just went to the room where I talked (which was very small, they could have told me) and set up my own laptop and didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. The talk went terrible because it made me even more nervous.

Essential parts of the speaker package are travel (all or most of the cost), at least two nights at the hotel, conference ticket and lunch. I have made a few exceptions in the past, but am doing that less often now. These things must be offered upfront. I shouldn’t have to “beg” for it or apply for financial aid.