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Survey Stats: Gender
*Of those who declared their gender. Other includes non-binary, non-conforming male and other.
Experience and frequency of talks
4 Experience ranged from 1 year to 20 years as a
4 Respondents had spoken for 1 through to 40 events
in the past year
4 One person had spoken at over 100 in the last year!
Lifecycle of a conference
(from the speaker point of view)
The Call for Papers or
emails to potential
This is your first impression make it a good one!
"Evidence that the conf
organizers are going to dot
their I's, cross their T's,
and generally take care of
their business efficiently."
How long does it take to prepare a
In my survey the response was remarkably consistent.
Between 40 to 80 hours or "2 weeks work" was a very
common answer to a freeform question.
What does it cost to speak (assuming
travel/accomodation is covered)?
4 for self-employed people 2 or 3 days of work while
at the conference
4 child or petcare to pay for
4 employees may have to use vacation time
4 food and drinks at the event
What does it cost to speak?
For a self-employed person many of the costs are in
losing opportunities for billable work.
4 10 days of prep
4 2 days of travel
4 3 days at the conference
4 plus extra expenses due to being on the road
"2 days of conference cost
me the paid time off that it
takes 7 weeks to save up."
"Mostly just holiday time,
so much so that in the last
2 years all of my holiday
has been taken around
"... so much strain on family
that it causes my wife to
forbid future conference talks.
[My spouse] shoulders most of
the additional burden & there's
not a dollar figure on it."
Recognise the cost to
Show opportunities for them to get extra value from their
What do you expect of
Unique talk? Length of talk. Extra events.
Will you be recording talks
When and how will they be distributed?
Your Code of Conduct
Also details of how this is enforced.
Call for Papers
4 When is the deadline for submission?
4 When will speakers hear if they have been accepted
4 What is the selection process?
4 Will you use the submitted abstract as the talk
description on the site?
Be clear if this is an invitation to speak or an invitation to
apply to the call for papers.
Be personal - tell them why you want
them specifically to speak at your
"Why I, rather than some
other expert, would be an
important addition to the
Many speakers have information on
their websites - read that first!
Busy speakers can have complex schedules!
If you are booking flights
4 ensure you have the correct legal name of your speaker for
4 and make sure that name is only used for the booking, not
on the event site
4 if there are a number of flights ask your speaker their
4 find out if they will want to check a bag if there is an extra
Can your speaker travel to your country?
4 check arrival and departure dates
4 does the speaker have any special requirements - for
example an accessible room
4 will the speaker be travelling with a family member?
4 would they prefer to arrange their own
"I once got picked at a 4 day conference
to give a tutorial on the first day, and a
talk on the last day, but their speaker's
package only covered 3 nights hotel. It
was an interesting conversation, but
was made right in the end when they
agreed to cover the full 4 nights."
"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."
If you have a strict budget
Offer speakers fewer nights in the pricier hotel or more
nights in a budget one
Consider the location of the hotel and
4 Not all speakers will be comfortable travelling alone
around a strange city.
4 If the chosen hotel is some way from venues, arrange
4 slide format and resolution
4 availability of internet connection from the podium
4 will playing audio or video present a problem?
4 any notes based on your knowledge of the venue /
4 if you want speakers to present on a conference
"Two weeks before the
conference they sent a
reminder with all my travel
details in it and a 9-page
speaker briefing pdf."
PDFs can be lovely
but emails are more easily accessible in transit
Your contact details
Details of a point of contact that will be responsive when the
speaker is in transit and while at the event.
4 How am I getting to the city?
4 What is the address of the hotel?
4 How am I getting from the airport to the hotel?
4 What should I do on arrival?
4 What time is the speaker dinner and where do we meet?
4 What time is registration at the venue?
4 Is there a technical check?
4 Where should I present myself before my talk?
4 What other commitments do I have?
4 What time and where is the after party?
Other useful to know things
4 What costs at the hotel are covered?
4 What is not covered?
4 If there are meals at the event outline what is provided,
especially if your speaker has explained any food allergies.
4 local travel information
4 tips on local sights to see if the speaker has half a day
Be ready to help out
Make sure someone is watching the contact email address and
"One event said they'd send a car
to pick me up from the airport —
but it didn't arrive. And couldn't
contact the organisers on the
day either. Added a lot of stress
to getting to the venue on time.
They came hand-luggage
Avoid hampers of artisanal jam, bottles of spirits, anything
heavy or huge
Some things are like
*don't give them marmite
People like practical gifts
4 A hoodie
4 An umbrella when rain is forecast
4 Travel power adapters - correct for the speaker's origin
4 Sim cards and mifi devices
4 Portable batteries
4 lipsalve and moisturizer
Thoughtful, personalized items and
4 A city walking tour or trip to a local attraction
4 Putting something in the gift bag a speaker has
mentioned hoping to try
4 Small hand crafted items
4 Food gifts that can be eaten or shared during the
"I spoke at a conference with
tiered speaker perks. So
speakers would ask me if I was
going to an event and I would be
surprised and embarrassed to say
I didn't know anything about it."
"I think a really great speaker
dinner goes a long way to making
everyone feel comfortable and
welcome. Too many events, I feel like
I walk in, speak, and leave without
really interacting. Those dinners,
when they do happen, can be gold."
"The speaker dinner allows me to get
to know a few people from both the
organisers and the other speakers. If
this is in a city I'm not used to, it
makes me feel more confident for the
rest of the conference as I at least
have a couple of people I know."
Tips for speaker dinners
4 Not too late!
4 Check food restrictions, preferences and allergies
4 If "dinner" is more "nibbles" let speakers know
4 Relaxed and social is generally more important than
expensive and flashy
Speaker dinners let you
check in with each speaker
Is everyone well and happy, can you help anyone?
Alternate ideas to a dinner
Arrange a fun event for speakers and attendees
Make contact with all speakers
4 Make sure you have been in touch with every arriving
4 Have they everything they need?
4 Let them know of any changes to the schedule or
"I once spoke at a conf in Prague
where the organizers didn't make
themselves known to the speakers.
It was totally anonymous. There
where two evening events, still none
of the organizers bothered to say hi
to a speaker."
A Speaker Room
4 Providing a quiet room with wifi can be helpful to
4 Especially where the conference is not in the same
location they are staying.
4 In my experience they encourage speakers to stick
around, rather than hiding in the hotel.
"There have been a few conferences
where I've never even met the
organizer and there appears to be
no staff or volunteers. You show up,
find your room, set yourself up,
give a talk, and just kind of fade
4 Explain what will happen
4 Should they be on stage or walk on after the intro?
4 Check the details of the intro
4 Be enthusiastic - why are you excited they are at the
"Once an organizer gave me a
really half-hearted intro in which
he said something that basically
suggested he wasn't sure why
they'd asked me to speak in the
first place but maybe I'd be good."
"Despite being promised the
ability to do a technical check (it's
in my contract), at my most
recent talk the A/V person wasn't
in the room before I went on. I
had to set up everything myself."
"At my first ever Event Apart the projector
was blank for the first 5 mins of my talk. I
had no idea what to do or what went wrong,
but I saw Toby and Mike quietly but quickly
making their way to the stage and all the
cables to sort out whatever had went wrong.
Realizing that they had my back in that
moment and were on top of finding a fix was
Did you like this talk? Yes / No
4 broken down
4 filtered through the organisers before passed on to
"CocoaConf 2012 made gave people
that turned in speaker feedback raffle
tickets with good prizes. It got me
over 50 responses to a talk with 100
people attending, and I received all the
feedback only 15 minutes after my
talk was done. It was really helpful."
Code of Conduct Violations
Have a plan in place for what you will do if you are informed
of a code of conduct violation.
"I was bullied at a
conference by a sponsor
and the coordinators told
him I told them."
"I brought up something with
organizers once (an attendee
didn't seem dangerous, just a
little lecherous) and they
waved it off with 'oh, him–he's
a nice guy, just confused'."
"At a Ruby conference in Florida, myself
and two other speakers were harassed.
[The conference organizers] 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 actively encourage my peers to
avoid that conference."
"At a meetup I felt the behaviour of an
individual went against the coc - I did feel
very uncomfortable doing so, but they handled
it so well. They made me feel very comfortable
in approaching them and that it had been the
right thing to do. They kept my identity
anonymous through the rest of the process
when approaching the individual and dealing
with the issue."
"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."
"Once I had a horrible cold right before
the conference (Smashing Conf in
Oxford), so I let the organizers know,
not because I was going to cancel, just
as a warning that my voice wasn't going
to be great. Cat brought me tea, honey,
lemon, and various medicines to help me
"An old injury flared up, and
the organizer insisted on
immediately setting me up
with a same day medical
appointment and personally
covered the expense of it."
"One time at Agile Manchester I was due to
speak, but was ill. I dragged myself there not
really feeling up to it and this was pretty
obvious to the organiser when I got there.
Within 30m the organisers had arranged an
alternate speaker, and sent me home. They
still covered expenses, accommodation,
etc.despite me not speaking."
New speakers need your
attention more than your
Speakers from diverse
backgrounds may need
They may not be used to travel
They may not have much cash, or credit cards to fall back on
Expenses and fees are a
You have huge privilege if you can afford to speak for free or
cover your own travel and accomodation
Expenses and fees are a
This is where the conversation gets hard.
"These things are
preventable in actionable
ways that have nothing to
do with a code of conduct."
How can we make this safe?
4 properly cover food and travel costs
4 "buddy" system
4 cover a +1 to attend
4 24/7 contact number in case someone gets stranded
4 lots of reminders that the number is to be used for
Doing it right doesn't mean
doing it expensively
"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
"Goodie bags with snacks
when you arrive after a day
of travel is so
"For my first conference, I
arrived at my hotel feeling
like an imposter a small
welcome pack a note from the
organisers made me feel really
welcome and at home. "
"+1 ticket for a friend, so I
can give it to a friend who
wouldn't otherwise see the
" InfoShare sent me a zip
of all the photos that had
been taken of me at the
conference by the official
"Small things like RT's of
speaker slides from the
conference account were
We all want the same thing
A successful and enjoyable event for everyone
Thank you for listening
I'm always @rachelandrew