Feedback for RailsConf organizers

May 20, 2014

During RailsConf, I jotted down notes on feedback for the conference organizers. They haven’t asked for it at all, but I thought I’d gather it here anyway :)

On the general experience for first time speakers:
  • Overall, I felt really welcomed and supported as a first-time speaker, especially throughout the proposal process! I got really useful feedback during the CFP process.
  • I wonder if it would be helpful to have the ability for people to self-identify as first-time speakers during the proposal process, so that these proposals in particular could get more feedback?
  • The track conductor for the track my talk was on (Novices), Noel Rappin, actually came to my talk! That was much appreciated. He also reached out a couple weeks beforehand to see if he could help with anything, and followed through with getting some feedback for my slides. That was awesome. It would have been nice if he’d reached out a bit sooner, even, though I know people are busy.
  • I regret not asking for a conference guide. There could maybe have been some of that kind of information included in the site upfront, like what to expect for meals/snacks.

  • I’ve been thinking about the ideal slots for newbie talks to go into. Days-wise, it seems like not being on the first or last day is best. I think perhaps being the second talk in a block is also a bit better, as the previous talk can have “warmed up” the audience a bit.
  • I’m curious whether it would help or hurt to promote first time speakers, like collecting that information somewhere as a sort of “hey! you should support these speakers and help make them feel welcome in the community!” Or would that instead be used by some people as a way to avoid certain talks, because they’re by inexperienced people?

Organized events:
  • I enjoyed myself at the speaker dinner much more than I had expected! It helped a lot that I stuck around with Chuck and he’s so gregarious. I would’ve liked a bit more structure for introductions there though, like icebreakers of some kind, or games, or even assigned seating, like gathering up people on the same track together.
  • I would LOVE to see more of this kind of non-alcohol socializing event (HT Chiu-Ki Chan)!! Next time I’m going to bring some games of my own to start or join in on a non-alcohol-based “birds of a feather” group event.

  • Definitely it would’ve helped to get the A/V details out sooner. I had already started on my slides by the time the official details came out (about 2 weeks before the conference) and just kept working on them, but then the weekend before, realized they were made with the wrong ratio and spent a few hours the day before my talk re-creating the slides for the right ratio instead.
  • They provided clickers! That was really nice. Much more compact than the Wiimote I brought with me.
  • The A/V staff were really friendly when I did my run through (“It’s my job to take care of how the slides look when projected, don’t worry about that”) so kudos there.

  • It would be great to include the Twitter handles for speakers with their bio listings.
  • The seats in the rooms were pretty narrow and set up very close together. Maybe this is just a venue thing? But those of us that are more, er…generously sized, could use a bit more breathing space, and it could improve efficiency in the end with not having people sit every other seat as much.