I know how it feels to be the loneliest…..

…..welcome back outcasts

Why do we attend conferences? Read blogs? Watch webinars?

How do we engage?

I asked this question to my testing colleagues at work…

Here are the results…

Topics –

  • why you enjoy working
  • explaining how things work
  • topics that aren’t directly test related (e.g. mental health)
  • speakers from companies you’ve heard of (and love their products)
  • lessons learned from experiences
  • good news stories
  • psychology of testers/testing
  • multi-track options (sometimes)
  • relatability
  • automation experiences

Diverse speakers/writers, length of talks/blogs, topics, levels of production etc.

Interactive workshops (such as, the Lego Automation workshop by Richard Bradshaw as mentioned in I’m not afraid, they can read all about it…..)


Being a part of a community, belonging

Networking (drinks) – meeting other testers, sharing stories


Meeting with and interacting with people you’ve followed online, read their blogs

Good venue that’s easily accessible

Great catering

New ideas –

Swag (more notes on this than any other!!)



People selling themselves, or their products (perception of consultant culture)

Cliques, or the appearance thereof

Narrow or overly opinionated viewpoint, portrayal

Intimidating environment (huge expo, easy to feel lost, lonely)

Blank/empty slides –/– too many words on slides

Appearance of ‘script-reading’, unrehearsed

Prohibitive price

Lack of diversity, both in topic and in speaker (we don’t use Selenium or test web API)

This is obviously a small sub-set and we have seen a lot of benefits to attending conferences.

Ministry of Testing are doing a great job making TestBash more inclusive, they have quiet spaces, open space on their final day and next year in Brighton, they’re even going to have a child care option.

Many conferences have meetups outside of the conferences, early morning runs, swims, lean coffees etc.

At EuroSTAR 2018, in the Hague, I will once again be volunteering in the community huddle, as part of the expo.

We aim to be a welcoming place in a very busy and vast space. My aim in this conference is to try and tick off as many of the ‘Hot’ items and to address some of the ‘Not’ items as part of the Huddle team.

We will be hosting games, quiet spaces, stickers….awkward looking people with a hook-a-duck game

Soapbox talks…

And couch sessions with some of the conference speakers

We aim to make delegates at the conference welcome, to help them to engage and get the most out of their conference experience.

If you’re coming along this year, come along and say hi.

If you’re going to any conference, before you go, try and make a checklist of things you really want to learn, hear, talk about, people you want to see etc.

Take notes, see what you can take back to your workplace.

Know your limits, make space for yourself, don’t burn out. If none of the talks in one session appeal, don’t feel obliged to go to one, we all need time to process things and conferences can be really intense.

If you’re a more experienced conference goer, keep a look out for new guys, it’s not always easy to step out and start a conversation, especially in what can seem like an alien or intimidating environment.

Most importantly, have fun, engage and don’t leave with regrets.

Blog post title lyrics from: Welcome to the new south  – by Less than Jake.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.


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