Kent at Conferences

Information Kent wants you to know when you invite him to a conference.

Kent presenting on stage raising his hand with the remix logo on screen behind him
Kent presenting on stage raising his hand with the remix logo on screen behind him

Conferences

First of all, thanks for inviting me to speak at your conference. I take it as a great honor!

Here are just a few random things I hope conference organizers take into account during planning, preparation, and execution of any conference I attend. In no particular order.

I realize that some of these things may be too much to ask from community-led events and things, but hopefully these can give you an idea of what would really make your speakers happy.

Diversity of Speakers

I come from a very well represented group of people (white men). I will not speak at your event if everyone else looks like me. Please put in the work to diversify your speaker lineup.

Parties/Events that are actually fun

Some people really enjoy drinking alchohol and yelling at each other all night. I am not one of those people. I don't drink alchohol and I don't like yelling over loud music to communicate. I go to conferences to meet people and share ideas. If you really want to have the drunken yelling match type party then that's your choice, but it would be awesome to have another place for people like me to be to have meaningful conversations.

Some conferences have a separate room with board games, milkshakes, etc. That's perfect. Gives us something to do to break the ice and a space where we can just enjoy each other's company.

Sometimes there will be a hackathon or something which I will probably not participate in, but I've definitely enjoyed in the past.

Calendar Event Invites

When preparing for an event, I get countless emails telling me where to be and when for different activities and things. Please don't force me to manually enter this into my calendar. 99% of the time your speakers all use digital calendars (and most probably use Google Calendar). Please send a digital calendar invitation for every when/where event going on for the conference. It helps a great deal (this includes hotel checkin/checkout time with confirmation numbers). And please include the physical address in the location and details in the description.

Honorarium

For events that rake in a lot of money, I expect to be compensated for the time and effort I put into preparing and delivering my talk. I'm often cited as a reason people bought a ticket to come to the conference and I expect that value to be recognized for events where the organizers are making money.

Many event organizers are community-led events that are just trying break even if they can. If you're on a very tight budget and struggling to get sponsors/ticket sales, talk to me and I may be able to waive the honorarium for you. If I agree to come, then it's because I appreciate what you're doing for the community and want to support you.

I expect conferences to pay for speakers' conference ticket, flights, hotel, and domestic travel because otherwise the speaker pool is limited to only those who can afford to travel. I don't typically attend conferences which do not pay for these things for speakers.

Air Travel

I prefer to schedule my own flights and get reimbursed for them. If that's overly complicated for you then I'm fine scheduling through an agency as well.

One other thing to keep in mind is that I don't plan to stick around for much site-seeing after the conference. When I travel I leave my wife at home alone with four kids and I want to get back to them as soon as possible. This might mean I miss out on some or part of the after-conference activities which is a bummer, but it is what it is. Eventually I'll bring some or all of my family along with me on these trips and will stick around longer 😄

International Travel

I really struggle when traveling internationally. Paying extra to fly first class makes a big difference on my ability to recover and deliver for you and your attendees. If you're making money on this event, then I will expect you to cover the cost. For community-led events that are just trying to break even, I realize this puts me out of reach for your event. So we can make up for this by hosting a workshop to pay for my travel as well as my time to deliver the workshop.

I will also need a day to recover from the trip. So I generally prefer to have at least 24 hours (preferrably more) between the time that I land and the time I'm expected to do anything for the conference. This obviously has implications on my sleeping accomodations...

Hotel

I prefer that you book the hotel(s) for me during my stay. You know more about the area and most of the time conferences have a special bulk rate anyway. Please send me confirmation details as soon as you have them (along with a calendar event for checkin/checkout time).

Gifts

Who doesn't love gifts? Especially when traveling internationally, having something unique to the location I'm traveling to is appreciated. I definitely appreciate it. Gifts are a kind gesture that is certainly not expected and I won't be let down if I don't get one. If you do want to give your speakers a gift, here are some things to keep in mind (at least for me).

Please keep in mind that I typically don't check baggage and pack light, so I can't take anything very large. Also coffee/tea related gifts are pretty popular but they don't work for me since I don't drink coffee or tea. And I've had an unfortunate number of jam-like products confiscated at airport security as well, so make sure whatever you give is something I can travel with.

If you'd like to provide a gift, but you're uncertain of what to offer, donation to a local charity in my name is deeply appreciated and doesn't bring with it logistical challenges as well.

Talk Recordings

I prefer talks I give to be recorded and made available on YouTube promptly after the event. If you record it but don't make it available on your own YouTube channel then I would like to be able to upload it to mine.

Even better if there's a live stream so my family can watch at home.

Speaker Requirements

When I'm invited to speak, I need to know these things:

Code of Conduct

I expect a code of conduct to be well advertised and enforced at every event I attend.

Chat

Connecting with attendees during the conference is a lot of help. A twitter hashtag is great. A discord server is awesome. A conference app is "meh" for me personally, but some people really like it (a capable website is better).

Badges

Please make sure that people's names are clearly visible on the both the front and back of badges/lanyards.

A cool idea I've never seen implemented is to allow people to provide their social avatar for printing directly on the badge. For a lot of people, I recognize their twitter avatar better than their name or face, so it would help me know whether I've digitally met the person I'm talking to.

Conclusion

If you have questions of things I haven't covered in this document, please contact me and I'll get it added. I'm sure I'm missing some stuff. Thanks for the invitation!