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 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.

I’ve never spoken to organizers about a problem. It’s such a small community and I wouldn’t want to endanger my ability to speak.

O’Reilly Fluent paid for my flight change fees to go home a day early because my daughter was ill. Beyond Tellerand provided handwritten personal note in my room, along with a package of special gifts arranged with some of the sponsors. Really felt valued.

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.

Myself and two other speakers were harassed at the pre-conference party, as well as several other times throughout the conference. We spoke to the conference organizers and they agreed to meet, but the entire conversation was not productive. They dismissed our report of harassment by the male attendee because “he is a good guy and has a family and didn’t mean it that way.

I have to say, although they are controversial on the subject of Codes of Conduct, I’ve had great experiences speaking at the conferences run by UIE (Jared Spool’s group). they do quite intensive speaker development with lots of feedback, and I’ve gotten a lot of value out of that. in addition, they market me - they know their audience and they take my talk summaries and craft them into marketing their audience will understand. it’s really helpful, and obviously more work than just having me send in a summary and putting it online without edits.