Yes, Run a Conference

I wrote this in response to a tweet. The tweet was (I’m quite sure) a joke, but I’m responding to it on face value, anyway. I started replying on Twitter, but this grew to be way too long, so it’s posted here instead.

Because I’m a spoilsport, and in case others stumble across this tweet without much outside context, I’d like to unwrap this a bit.

Conferences are complicated beasts. Organizing them is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also quite stressful at times.

Questions like “Will we actually get enough talks to fill out the schedule?” and “Can we run this whole conference without losing money?” can keep you awake at night. It takes long hours from many volunteers to make these things happen. Everyone who works on an event does so because they love their community and want to give back. All that stress and excitement means emotions (both positive and negative) run generally high leading up to and during a conference. This can strain relationships (both inside and outside the circle of organizers), and everyone needs some time to cool off and decompress after an event ends.

But! Once it’s all done, you’ve accomplished something big. You had dozens of speakers and hundreds of attendees (or more), and nothing catastrophic happened. People had a great time. They’re going to write about your conference, and they’ll remember it for a long time. Lifetime friendships have formed, and you helped make that happen.

So it’s all worth it. It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly no walk in the park, but it’s worth it for those who see it through.

Sorry for hijacking this thread and ruining the joke. We joke like this because it’s our shared experience, and it gives us comfort to know that we’re not alone in thinking “wow, this is hard”.

For those out there who see this, don’t take it too seriously. Especially those who are thinking about running a conference of their own. It’s a fantastic experience in that “I built this, and it brings joy to people” kind of way.

And if you find yourself saying “Don’t run conferences” and genuinely mean it, reach out. We’ve been through it, and we’re here to help.