by Tatiana Mac
Last updated 14 April 2021
What is a speaker rider?
As speaking comes with immense privilege, I have crafted a speaker rider to set expectations and boundaries around my engagement. I am grateful to all the conference organisers who have brilliantly hosted me. I would love to continue to exercise this privilege to speak at conferences, and use this privilege to make the landscape more accessible and beneficial to tech's most historically excluded and marginalised communities.
😫 I provide a lot of explanations for those of you who never had to consider these things. Most thoughtful conferences I've attended check most of these boxes intrinsically, particularly when conference runners are experienced speakers. They get it.
1️⃣ All of these are based on my own ethos. I don't wish to or attempt to speak on behalf of all conference speakers.
🤷🏼♀️ I will opt to speak at a conference anyway, even if they can't meet all criteria. It usually involves a conversation at the least to ensure that there's not a value misalignment. If the organiser response indicates a value misalignment, I won't speak. (The difference between "we're trying, here's how" and "we think this is absurd and unnecessary.")
💙 You are welcome to use and to adopt this speaker ride as a speaker or as a conference organiser (reframing it as what you might send to a speaker when inviting them). I would appreciate a link back to this rider unrecognised.
💸 I provide this speaker rider for use for free, but you may also sponsor me for this and other open source work I do:
With the global pandemic, I am not taking in-person events at this time. These are my expectations of hosting when I return (date TBD).
🛩️/🚋 Travel expenses covered
- Airfare and local transportation to the conference (unless lodging is within walking distance)
- During heavier speaking months, I sometimes will provide heavy cost-savings to conference organisers as I'm already on the continent the conference is on (when they invited me as an international speaker). When this happens, I will kindly ask to reallocate budget to a business-class upgrade since I will have been on the road for a long time.
🏨 Lodging expenses covered
- U.S. conferences: For full length of conference, minus workshops/auxiliary events (unless I am partaking in those)
- International conferences (outside of U.S.): One (1) full day of lodging before the conference + length of conference/workshops (if I'm participating) + evening that I speak.
- Provide the option to purchase all travel and accommodation on behalf of the speaker. While I opt to book my own plane tickets, forcing the "reimbursement model" (where the speaker pays, then is reimbursed later) is exclusionary to folks who lack the liquid cash and/or do not have credit cards.
- Leave conference credit card on file for the hotel. Many folks cannot afford a large hold on their credit card, don't have access to credit cards (this becomes further complicated by international conferences).
- Generally, I prefer to have remote conferences (particularly those in very different time zones) to be pre-recorded. As I cannot guarantee internet stability, I would not want to compromise conference quality.
- For live sessions, ensuring we have some sort of back-up plan and run-of-show prior with internet speed tests, tech check, etc.
- Question and answer sessions need to be moderated by someone trained on your code of conduct with strict no harassment and trolling policies.
- Chat spaces must have conference moderators who are trained to follow your Code of Conduct (see section below).
- The space should be accessible to WCAG AA standards.
💰 Speaker honorarium
- For-profit conferences, I ask for 1,000-2,000USD depending on ticket costs and conference accessibility and value.
- For not-for-profit/community conferences where tickets are free/very low-priced, I will heavily discount or waive my fee depending on similar criteria above.
- For internal/private speaking events, I ask for 2,000-10,000USD depending on audience size, how my recorded talk will be used/distributed (private v. public), revenue/philanthropy of your company, the length and nature of the engagement (Q&A, talk + Q&A, workshop, etc).
- If there are multiple speakers, we must all be paid equally.
- If I am invited as a "keynote speaker", which is often paid more, I will offer to redistribute my "celebrity fee" to all speakers. Unfortunately keynote does not always indicate quality and beginner speakers put in just as much work and are often better speakers.
🎟 Ticket to full conference
- I would think this is a given, but some colleagues have been escorted on and off stage for conferences they spoke at! They were expected to buy tickets!!!
📝 Strictly-enforced Code of Conduct (CoC)
- You must have a dedication to protecting the most marginalised and minoritised individuals.
- Your CoC needs to explicitly call out what abuse is with clear examples (not limited to).
- You must have clearly defined methods for dealing with conflicts when they arise with trained staff to address conflicts and be prepared to appropriately handle complaints. CoCs are only as good as their enforcement.
- Both Write Speak Code and JSConfEU provide excellent CoCs that can serve as strong starting points.
🔺 Physically accessible space for all areas used
- All areas that are part of the conference should be accessible. Period. That means:
- Attendee seating
- Stage, even if you don't think you have speakers who require mobility aids. Because again, it needs to be accessible at all points to be accessible. It can't be conditional. Think about how things come up. Think about how we should not burden people to self-identify and plan as much as we can help it.
- Social events tied to the conference within the venue and outside of the venue must be accessible especially if you use these social events to sell the networking aspects.
- Accessibility of space should follow the criteria of the American Disabilities Act and/or equivalent local standards.
💬 Live captioning
- Ideally conducted by a live-captioning company, but in dire circumstances, using auto-captioning as a "better-than-nothing" option.
- Live captioning helps a vast array of disabled people, from Deaf and Hard of Hearing, to neurodivergent folks, to learning language speakers, and people at the intersection of all those things.
🙎🏾♀️ ** Representation
- More than 1 non-man of colour (so I'm not the only one!)
- No all-white panels
- For full speaker set, representation across race; gender identity, expression, and orientation; physical and mental disability. The larger your speaker list, the higher my expectations will be of equitable representation.
- If I am on a panel, it must be moderated, ideally by a trained moderator. I've been on far too many panels where the moderator did not equitably ask people questions, and prioritised the most centred and majoritised people.
🔐 Commitment to attendee/speaker security/safety
- Security should be provided as needed.
- No selling of data/information, especially not to conference sponsors. If contact information is gathered, it must be done with consent and to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
🚽 Gender neutral and accessible bathroom options
- Ensure that you have an option that is both gender neutral and accessible.
- Language that has worked well is "sit/stand" and/or "all genders".
- If multi-level, please ensure gender neutral and accessible options are not restricted to one floor/location.
- Gender-neutral parent stalls.
🔖 Pronoun identification
- Provide stickers/pins/printed on/writing space for nametags.
- Pronouns should be optional for attendees to self-identify, but provided nonetheless.
- They, she, and he at the bare minimum. Options should be combinable (so, like for me, I use both they and she).
- Again, pronouns should be listed on website/printed materials (but always optional). You can get away with just using someone's name if you are uncertain, and they is a better default than anything else, IMHO.
- Confirm with speakers before announcing them on stage, in particular (I've witnessed quite a few misgenderings through misuse of pronouns).
💰 Scholarship program considerations
- Scholarship program should be called something other than "Diversity Scholarship." It reinforces the notion that "diverse" (which is often falsely conflated with only racial diversity) candidates all need charity, especially when you then photograph them and use them to virtue signal your good. It is gross.
- Scholarships is a good option. Be explicit to how you choose candidates, what they're getting, and don't make them conduct trauma porn to get tickets.
- Include travel. If you don't include travel, you are likely limiting it to local folks, which isn't exactly providing equitable access to folks who don't live in cities where conferences are typically held. If you can't do this, acknowledge this and call them local ticket scholarships or something.
🎙 Stage set up
- Accessible stage (see above)
- Wireless microphone option (handheld or microphone)
- Utilised for all staged aspects of conference (Q&A from audience, workshop speakers, etc).
- The idea of "my voice is loud enough without a mic" is supremely disableist, and even if you ask the audience, you're relying on people to self-identify their needs.
- Confidence monitor viewable from stage
- Confidence monitors are second screens (outside of my laptop) that present my slides/speaker notes. They're usually only visible to me from the stage.
- Confidence monitors help folks my size and/or folks who are seated to present. I am 1,58m short, so I look like a child or Mr Wilson presenting from behind a lecturn. Also, what would a shorter or mobility aid-using speaker do?
- If it's a tiny venue without the rigging, my laptop on a small, adjustable table near me should work.
- Timer viewable from stage
- If you are going to be strict about the timeline, then you need to provide this. You can include this with the confidence monitor/my laptop/a small kitchen timer.
- You need to enforce this equitably. I so often see majority-/centred-folks allowed to go over (read: white cis het dudes who don't care), but then everyone else has to shorten their timeslot to accommodate. Big. Fat. Nope. If you're going to be strict, be strict with everyone.
📋 Retain intellectual property and ownership of my content
- I will allow video recordings/live streams so long as they are accessible (captioned) and free (no paywalls!) with written permission prior.
- No censorship of my content, written, verbal, visual.
- No branding of my content (I will not use branded slide templates, etc.).
📈 Slides in speaker-preferred format (right now, slides.com)
- I will not convert into any other format. Period. My slides take a ton of time to design and create and I practice using what I'm comfortable with.
💻 Speaker option of presenting from conference computer or their own
- It is super difficult/nerve-wracking to get your set up right to do dope code demos. Slide infrastructure, special fonts, and complex environments all contribute to unique presentations. Let people use and test their machines.
- Providing an option for a laptop for someone who doesn't have one and time to get their environment set/tested.
- Asking someone to present from an operating system (OS) that is not their own, with settings they're not used to, etc, is also stressful.
🚶🏼♀️ Reserved right for force majeure without consequence
- If for any reason your conference, other speakers, sponsors, attendees, third-party vendors, etc demonstrate inappropriate behaviour/bigotry (determined by the code of conduct and also I reserve the right to determine beyond), I reserve the right to withdraw from the conference at any point without consequence.
- Withdrawal may mean that I no longer want my identity associated with your conference (i.e., videos recorded to be deleted/not published, for example) and ask for commitment of removal as soon as possible in writing.
- The reason for this is that I feel resistance only works if you take meaningful action. Sometimes that meaningful option is opting out of situations.
- You are responsible for reimbursing me for any costs associated with this, not limited to accommodations and travel plan changes.
- I have never had to exercise this right—and hope to never have to. I would imagine no conference organiser would want this either.
- I have never had to exercise force majeure and it will be my last resort (sorry for getting that stuck in your head) if all else fails. In most situations, I feel confident we can collaborate to find an effective, less dire solution to the problem.
If you are interested in having me speak, please provide the following:
- Confirmation you have read this speaker rider with questions/any criteria you are unable to meet
- Conference name, website, date of events, location
- Budget for speaker honorarium
- Tentative/confirmed speaker list
- What you are interested in having me speak about