Dr. John's Event Preference Guide

  • PhD Artificial Intelligence
  • International Speaker
  • Educator
  • Advisor
  • Software Engineer
  • Twitter: @drjohnflackett

Running a great event is really hard work. There’s venue, topic, speakers/panellists, sponsorship, refreshments, marketing, tickets, worry, etc.

I don’t want to add to the list, but I do feel strongly about inclusion and diversity at events I attend (both as a speaker and attendee). Below are a few things I consider before taking part; none of these however – except all male line-ups and panels (‘manels’) – would necessarily stop me presenting. I’m always happy to discuss all aspects of an event, so please let me know if you have any questions or if you think I’ve missed anything really important off this list:

  • Is there a diverse line-up of speakers/panellists? Females are still massively underrepresented.
  • Same goes for minority groups – in a nutshell, is there a diverse line-up?
  • Is there good access for disabled participants at the venue (e.g., parking, ramps, toilets, etc.)
  • Is there an opportunity to have live captioning and/or a sign language interpreter the event? Tip: If not, deaf or hard of hearing attendees can be seated at the front to make lip-reading easier.
  • Does the event have a published ‘Code of Conduct’ that promises a safe environment for everyone? A Code of Conduct contains clear guidelines and enforcement policies on harassment, racism, unwanted sexual attention and bullying (to name a few).
  • What is the topic area and what is the target audience? ‘Social good’ and events for next gen and/or disadvantaged groups are always a pleasure to attend.
  • What support is there for the technology at the event? Each presentation takes many hours of preparation over and above the logistics of getting to the event and actually delivering the material. It’s great when all the AV needs are taken care of (one less thing to worry about).

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