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

RubyConf AU 2014 offered to pick up all speakers from the airport (or from their homes if they were locals) - something we continued in future years (I was part of the 2015 team).

At some small community events because they are in bars, attendees gather around tables which makes it hard for a visiting speaker to sit as everybody is in groups where they all know each other (especially if you’re a bit nervous and shy like me!).

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.

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.

I think there’s a churn where people speak for free, do it for a bit/get popular, then either a) get sick of it and stop or b) start getting paid to do it. Doing it for free is NOT SUSTAINABLE. I’ve noticed many confs extending their CFPs and that can only mean one thing: they’re getting fewer quality proposals.

Recently I had a conference want to send me back on a flight the last day of the conference meaning I would miss it, that made me sad, also no breakfast included in the hotel, which can be stressful first thing in the morning, not something I need when i’m essentially working.