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

A negative experience was when I was keynote speaker at one event. Wasn’t paid, had to arrange own travel and accommodation at own expense.

Web Directions gave me a super high-quality water bottle that I still use. It’s right next to me now.

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.

In an invitation email I want to know why I, rather than some other expert, would be an important addition to the conference.

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.

GoGaRuCo 2014 gave all speakers thank you cards, toiletry travel bags with our names on them, and also offered to connect our Uber accounts under their corporate account to make claiming travel easier. (I don’t like Uber, but it was an appreciated offer nonetheless!). GoGaRuCo were broadly super supportive of their speakers! Oh, and they had a speakers/organisers Green Room, which is useful for last minute preparation and zoning out.