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 dislike being told late that slides are 16:9 resolution/ must be CC-licensed, as I write my decks early.

I don’t have a credit card. So whenever confs are “It’s cool. Just charge it and we’ll reimburse you” I have to awkwardly go to a colleague/open source friend/childhood friend/someone (I’m not close with my family) and beg them to drop $3k on their card for a while until the conf reimburses me.

I am not really pro-swag, generally. Confab has fantastic attention to detail with their speaker gifts though. One year, they gave us engraved astronaut pens (their theme was space) with our names on them. I just thought the level of detail was insane. They always include handwritten notes in the speaker gift bag to say thanks.

A few years ago a woman was speaking at a front-end conference on a non-tech topic. Twitter was flooding with negative and sexist comments. I left the conference as the organizers did nothing about it and made no comments after the talk.

An event didn’t tell me that they were only covering the 3 nights of the conference (though they agreed to book me 4 nights at the hotel). It was a fancy hotel, too, so I got a $350 bill on checkout.

I think timings are important. Recently a speakers dinner I attended was started at 9pm the night before the conference, we all tried our hardest to get back to the hotel as early as we could, but it wasn’t before midnight.