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.
I’m shy and nervous around people I don’t know and in places I’ve never visited – especially if I don’t speak the local language. I really appreciate it when the organizers facilitate getting to know the area and also meeting other speakers who are there. Help me figure out public transportation.
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.
The best speaker gifts have been those that proved useful later. One conference I’ve been to has been held in winter months, and I have a scarf and a beanie from them that I wear still years later. Another provided panel speakers with a portable travel battery that can power my phone several times; that’s been stellar.
It can have a negative impact on my talk when A/V people are being really aggressive about setting up my laptop, I usually know more than they do about how to adjust settings.
I’ve had a few conferences where inadequate A/V facilities were present - stuff where the room was small, so they chose to eliminate the microphone, or the projector was on a normal-sized wall, and essentially un-viewable from mid-way through the room and back.
I’ve had a ton of great experiences. Organizers are saints in my book.