Sitting in skirts
June 22, 2018 2:12 PM   Subscribe

When designing a conference, who do you expect to be on stage? What do they need?
I was recently set to co-host an event. I wore a cute blue dress that ended just at my knees. This, I soon learned, was a mistake. My male co-host and I were seated on two tall stools. As he chatted up the audience, the dress slowly crept up my legs. I spent the entire event balanced precariously at the edge of the stool, legs crossed, trying not to move too much so I wouldn’t inadvertently flash the audience. When I thought maybe nobody was looking—which made no sense, since there were only two of us on stage—I lightly tugged my dress down.

Part of a series on Design Bias for Motherboard/Vice, this piece explores the hazards of wearing dresses and skirts while being on stage and how some conferences have planned appropriately. More people share disastrous chair stories.
posted by Margalo Epps (40 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
I recently forwarded this onto a friend of mine who organizes conferences for a living. I think she was already aware of this issue, but was happy to see this article.

Ironically the solution to skirts in a panel is to have a table in front of the panelists have a skirt on it.

I look forward to future installments of the Design Bias series; designer friends of mine have been appreciating this.
posted by el io at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


I'm curious if anyone's come up with a solution to the lapel microphone yet. It seems like you might be able to design a crossbody bag that both holds the battery and has the mic near your mouth. I wonder if any of the dress wearers have tried using their purse for it (since dresses usually mean you need a purse for pockets).
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:40 PM on June 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Don’t people ask what the seating will be for speakers? I always do.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:48 PM on June 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


> el io:
"Ironically the solution to skirts in a panel is to have a table in front of the panelists have a skirt on it."

Ironically, your example is the opposite of irony.

I think.

Relevant XKCD.

posted by signal at 2:56 PM on June 22, 2018


My outfit for my DJ night didn't have pants pockets, and yet I had a blazer with good pockets. Still lost my wallet three times, though my butt looked fantastic.

I have a new addition to my rules for when I'm ruler of the known world, and this new rule directly follows wherever "Everyone must spend a year in food service." appears on the list.

And that new rule is "All dudes everywhere have to spend a year wearing nothing but women's clothes without pockets."
posted by loquacious at 3:02 PM on June 22, 2018 [31 favorites]


Don’t people ask what the seating will be for speakers? I always do.

Smart practice, but probably it would be best if conference organizers set things up so panelists could wear what they wanted without having to worry about exposing themselves to the audience. Not everyone is going to realize ahead of time that there's a chance the provided seating might turn their totally-normal clothing choice into something uncomfortably inappropriate.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:03 PM on June 22, 2018 [21 favorites]


The article mentions inaccessible stages, so this seems relevant:

The company I work for hosts a large annual conference. Hundreds of sessions scheduled over the course of a few days. The session rooms mostly have the same setup, with little opportunity to make changes between sessions.

But we made one really, really boneheaded move this year. There was a session about ADA and accessibility, one of the speakers was in a wheelchair, and... the stage (one of those typical temporary ones they set up in hotel/convention center rooms) didn't have a ramp. The speaker had to participate from the floor next to the stage.

You can bet that things will be different next year.
posted by misskaz at 3:09 PM on June 22, 2018 [25 favorites]


The body mic problem is something I have encountered a lot. It's really annoying to give a formal talk and then have to wear a bag around your neck because there's no way to attach the rest of the piece to your suit.

It does seem like this is a problem with solutions.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:23 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


> Don’t people ask what the seating will be for speakers? I always do.

Is this not something that organizers communicate proactively? I've never been a speaker at a conference, but I have run them a few times and this is one of those details that gets put into the info packet we send out to everyone, along with times, locations, presentation logistics, etc for exactly this reason.
posted by cirgue at 3:39 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Regarding the small microphones, I saw a theatrical group at a con recently who appeared to have taped them directly to their actual faces as far as I could tell. It seemed... uncomfortable.
posted by inconstant at 4:16 PM on June 22, 2018


Don’t people ask what the seating will be for speakers? I always do.

New speakers don't generally know what to ask.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:17 PM on June 22, 2018 [27 favorites]


It does seem like this is a problem with solutions.

Yep. Just make sure the venue or whoever is providing sound has head-worn mics available too. It doesn't have to look like Britney Spears or the drive-through; there are ones that just fit over the ear.
posted by zachlipton at 4:48 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm curious if anyone's come up with a solution to the lapel microphone yet.

I mean, I can tell when I'm working with an experienced female presenter - if they're not in pants and a buttoned blouse, they're in a belted dress with a relatively high neck in front. No big necklaces or scarves either way. Or you can clip the beltpack to the back of the dress, at the neck, which is probably not that comfortable.

I dunno how much of a solution there is - a wireless lapel mic has to have a "beltpack transmitter" relatively chunky square thing with circuitry for transmitting plus batteries.

I saw a theatrical group at a con recently who appeared to have taped them directly to their actual faces as far as I could tell.

Yeah, there are tiny tiny mics that are either part of headsets or just loose. In theater they often get taped to the face or threaded through the hair. Still need a chunky transmitter pack, though - I know theatrical costumers often put a lot of effort into designing places to put transmitters into costumes.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:55 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Don’t people ask what the seating will be for speakers?

Is it always the same old thing trotted out in every situation; why is it blamed on a female's attire being the "problem"? If she hadn't dressed like *that* then....
posted by mightshould at 4:56 PM on June 22, 2018 [38 favorites]


I would never expect seating to be stools. That's utterly bizarre to me as someone who has attended a lot of conferences. I would never think to ask "are you going to make me perch uncomfortably on something high for absolutely no reason" because it's so clearly a bad idea.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:31 PM on June 22, 2018 [38 favorites]


. Just make sure the venue or whoever is providing sound has head-worn mics available too.

The article digs into this - not so much with the mics but with things like chairs and stages and such; "just make sure" can be a real budgeting issue, even before you get to the Murphy's Law elements of producing an event. (Budgeting not helped by the fact that hotels and other conference venues tend to charge top dollar for every little thing, mics and audio gear included.)

But, y'know, a lot of the problem is just attitude - the main article recounts a tale of a tech just blanking and saying "I didn't think anyone would show up in a dress." Which, c'mon dude; even if you weren't expecting it it's your job to figure something out. Paper clips, tape, safety pins, extra cables, there's always some kind of solution besides "Just wedge this thing under your leg."
posted by soundguy99 at 5:34 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


Huh...I have to say, as a woman who never wears dresses, the full extent of this set of problems totally didn't occur to me with regard to the medium-height stools at a venue where I co-host a monthly meetup. Although as someone with a butt, I have certainly noticed that the small stools are annoying to sit on, and I end up leaning against them myself more often than not. Lately I've been standing when I speak or finding an entirely different place to perch (armchair in the corner, windowsill, etc.).

Unfortunately, our regular venue doesn't have a lot of good seating options. This is definitely points in favor of continuing to diversify our meetup locations. Hmmmm. The other thing I've been realizing, looking ahead to our next meetup, is that as someone who now uses a walker for at least another month, I am starting to find our third-floor walk-up venue to be just unacceptably inaccessible. I'm a co-organizer and I will probably skip the next meetup because the idea of scooting all the way up 3 floors of stairs and then down again at the end of the night scares the hell out of me. Plus the bathrooms are a step up that I had already tripped over before this all happened...

Yeah. Not good. It's unfortunate it took me this long to realize some of this stuff, but hopefully my group can improve this in the future now that we're thinking about it.
posted by limeonaire at 5:57 PM on June 22, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm organising a conference right now, so this is very timely. I'll check the chairs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:58 PM on June 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


Inclusion: literally giving people seats at the table. And having a tablecloth. Who would have thought?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:01 PM on June 22, 2018 [15 favorites]


There seems to have been a trend lately at events here in D.C. to use the "fireside chat" format (pairs of chairs around a tiny table) and lapel michrophones, so people I work with usually want to try that. But I always make it a table with a tablecloth (and table-set microphones), because I HATE having to keep track of what my shoes and skirt are doing while also talking on a panel. It's so distracting. Why should I have to make concessions as to what I'm wearing, rather than the organizers making concessions in favor of diversity instead of style/look?

For my events I usually include a graphic of what the setup will be in speaker packets. This year I added a note to please consider colorblindness when speakers prepare slides (prompted by someone who exclusively used red/green on a blue background for a whole slide deck). I'm going to think through what other instructions I might want to include as well, and what else should go in my planning documents.

Thanks for this excellent resource. I'm going to share it with several people I know who do events.
posted by gemmy at 6:12 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


a wireless lapel mic has to have a "beltpack transmitter" relatively chunky square thing with circuitry for transmitting plus batteries.

This is why women have purses.

Placing it in a small purse and keeping it there (regardless of the speaker) might also encourage technicians to come up with a better solution than a chunky item which conveniently can attach to men's clothes but not women's.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Having everyone on stage seated behind a table with a tablecloth seems like the obvious solution. Personally I appreciate having at least a portion of my body hidden from audience view, so that I can fidget somewhere without anyone noticing.

As far as the lack of pockets in form-fitting clothing, whether for mic radio transmitters or wallet/keys/phone, why are bandoleers and accessory belts not more of a thing? Before spandex bodysuits and yoga pants became normalized as daywear, they were mostly seen in science fiction movie costumes, often accompanied by a belt with all sorts of clip on accessories. It just seems odd to me that that's not a more common thing in everyday fashion (not counting Burning Man and Steampunk cosplay), given how strongly current fashions are influenced by cinema couture.

"All dudes everywhere have to spend a year wearing nothing but women's clothes without pockets."

^I would love this as long as I get a Chewbacca style bandoleer to wear with them.
posted by ethical_caligula at 6:57 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Well, ahem, there is certainly a solution, broadway performers are mic'd in costumes that seem to be impossible to get on let alone stay on while singing and pirouetting. Although the installation of the mic likely involves an very intimate moment with a sound person and duck tape in surprising areas but well, if you do go that direction splurge on your own roll of authentic "gaffer" tape, it comes off safely.
posted by sammyo at 7:02 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


This kind of thing always reminds me of the point in The Charisma Myth about how comfort is essential to charisma. How convenient is it to set up a system where one gender is so often more comfortable than the other, and that gender just happens to be seen as having more credibility and better leadership qualities across the board.

Sigh. I do a lot of public speaking and my go-to uniform is a longish wide-skirted dress with a relatively high neck and flats or boots. It's just so much safer that way.
posted by rpfields at 7:07 PM on June 22, 2018 [25 favorites]


Wireless mic solution: Attach at lower back inside or outside of dress, blouse, shell, etc with a magnet. No pins or tape needed. When it's inside the only thing showing is a small magnet. If the beltpack doesn't have a metal clip, then gaff tape a matching magnet firmly to it.

Yes, this may require unzipping a dress, but this can be done solo.

Also, I probably didn't need to mention my other rule/law that all women's clothes must have optional and real pockets of actual depth and function.

I have also seen packs tucked into bra backstraps and even the back of hose/tights. Yeah, it's super creepy/weird, but try to look for mic belt packs in these spots on TV presenters.
posted by loquacious at 7:24 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I should clarify that when I said "Just make sure," that needs to be entirely on the organizers, not individual speakers to have to deal with in advance (or ideally, the vendor, because they're the ones doing the same thing for lots of conferences and can automatically have a variety of mic and chair options always so nobody knows they need to ask for anything, because they shouldn't have to).
posted by zachlipton at 7:40 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


A friend went to a company gathering at E3 several years ago. The event planner was very pleased with the "VIP" area they created -- stairs that led to a see-through (glass?) platform above the rank-and-file. Obviously...a dude planned it.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:46 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


Well, ahem, there is certainly a solution, broadway performers are mic'd in costumes that seem to be impossible to get on let alone stay on while singing and pirouetting. Although the installation of the mic likely involves an very intimate moment with a sound person and duck tape in surprising areas but well, if you do go that direction splurge on your own roll of authentic "gaffer" tape, it comes off safely.
You're partially correct there, sammyo, in that there are numerous ways of attaching a mic to a performer. Usually the beltpack is inserted in a pouch with an elasticated belt. Depending on the costume it might be a simple velcro-and-fabric band that goes around the waist, a elastic/fabric band around the arm, or a garter on the thigh. Sometimes it's possible to build a cavity for the pack inside a hat or wig. Otherwise, tuck the unit into the waistband of a skirt or trousers, or a bra strap.

The (very thin, fragile cable) is then threaded through the garment and attached with surgical tape, and never ever EVER industrial adhesives like gaffer tape or duck tape, because the adhesives used in those tapes are affected by sweat, adhere to body hair, and can be irritants or even toxic, particularly in sensitive areas around the face and.. uh... pants area. With reference to

The key for the tech doing this is respectful communication ("I have to attach the pack to your bra strap now, is that OK? Can I feed this cable through your clothes?") and uncompromising respect for the performer's boundaries. If they don't want you to do it, you're not doing it.

To re-rail somewhat, if you're going to use small-capsule wireless mics for conferences, they are easiest to do with a robust headset, like aerobics instructors wear, and a bum-bag style pouch which can be clipped on over clothing. This means you can move the mic quickly between multiple presenters with minimal downtime in a room. Conference organisers and some presenters don't like this because it looks ugly, though, which is why you end up with untrained people sticking mic packs in stupid places. Most annoying one I ever had was the guy who held both the pack and the capsule in one hand, and raised that hand to his mouth to speak (when he remembered). Throughout the presentation he complained that the sound was terrible and there were clicking, scratching noises through the PA.

Re-railing fully, it shouldn't be that hard to be respectful of your presenters and attendees. If you need branding or a particular visual element:
  • get trestle tables (for your accessible stage)
  • get the black fabric covers that go with the trestle tables
  • put a full-size wireless mic on a desk stand for each participant
  • get a banner with your branding
  • pin the damn banner to the fabric covers
Then your skirt-wearing folks can sit without anywhere near as much worry. The whole setup can be reset quickly to accomodate people with mobility aids, too - move chairs, shift a table, whatever.
posted by prismatic7 at 8:53 PM on June 22, 2018 [18 favorites]


Well, ahem, there is certainly a solution, broadway performers are mic'd in costumes that seem to be impossible to get on let alone stay on while singing and pirouetting. Although the installation of the mic likely involves an very intimate moment with a sound person and duck tape in surprising areas but well, if you do go that direction splurge on your own roll of authentic "gaffer" tape, it comes off safely.

No. That is not how it's done, because it's a terrible idea. Tape does not reliably adhere to skin, especially under hot lights and clothing. Costumers use a variety of workarounds to hide mic packs - hidden pouches, pockets, garter belts, etc, but never tape.

Does a mic pack even have to be hidden for a conference? Give people a fanny pack type dealie and be done with it.

I remember Roxane Gay saying that she was once invited to present and the stage was raised quite high with no stairs or a ramp to assist people. She couldn't get on stage. The organizers just assumed everyone presenting would be able to hop up.
posted by Stonkle at 9:02 PM on June 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


As far as the lack of pockets in form-fitting clothing, whether for mic radio transmitters or wallet/keys/phone, why are bandoleers and accessory belts not more of a thing? Before spandex bodysuits and yoga pants became normalized as daywear, they were mostly seen in science fiction movie costumes, often accompanied by a belt with all sorts of clip on accessories. It just seems odd to me that that's not a more common thing in everyday fashion (not counting Burning Man and Steampunk cosplay), given how strongly current fashions are influenced by cinema couture.

I get pocket belts/sporrans/festival belts and wear strap-on pockets all the time. I agree that they need to catch on more because they are so useful. Alas, I think they are associated with "fanny pack," which is a terrible name for a useful item.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:07 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Gah! That reminds me of The Reading Program Incident.

One time, I volunteered for this program where agribusinesses donated agriculture-themed books to primary school classrooms, and then volunteers would go to the classrooms, read the books aloud, and lead activities. I got sent to our local Catholic school. I wore a cardigan over a tank top, a knee-length skirt, and tall boots. Everything went fine until the teacher gave me one of those tiny children's chairs to sit in. There were no other chairs in the room the teacher must have stood all day or something. I didn't really think about it, until I saw the huge picture of myself in our local paper. My skirt was hiked up to Greenland, making the boots look like fetish gear, and the camera was pointed straight down my chestical area, making it look like I had 3x the cleavage I actually possess. It wouldn't have been so bad, except I'm surrounded by these angel-faced tots in their parochial school uniforms. It looked like the headline ought to read, "LOCAL WHORE CORRUPTS INNOCENTS."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:18 PM on June 22, 2018 [40 favorites]


Strong second for everything prismatic7 says, with an additional emphasis on this: "Conference organisers and some presenters don't like this because it looks ugly" which really kind of sums up the problem to me (not just with wireless mics but the whole kit & kaboodle with stools & chairs & tables & etc), which is where organizers get invested in a certain "look" (like, "No visible wires on stage!" or "Lean casually with your butt against this barstool!") and/or fail to budget for flexibility and then when someone shows up in perfectly acceptable clothing that might not work for that specific unique situation (which, not their fault, how were they to know?) the organizers/producers can't/won't figure out a workaround.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:17 PM on June 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


Other times, conference organizers are so committed to “the look” they’re going for that they’re willing to eschew practicality for dress wearers altogether. “Conference planning can be a little like show biz,” Knoblich said. “If you're going for a certain look, the presenters might be asked to be ready to sit in a director's chair or park bench or unicycle or anything else that fits your theme or design.”

Gahhh. If your "look" ensures that speakers are uncomfortable and off-balance (either literally or figuratively), you shouldn't be running the event.

Having run more town hall/panel discussion, etc. events than I care to count, I have explicitly forbidden the use of those stupid high-top/director stools on stage for a whole bunch of reasons, including the sartorial one. Other considerations include people with shorter stature, someone with a back problem (invisible disabilities are a thing!), and so on. They're seating that's an accessibility fail waiting to happen, and should be broken down for kindling.

When people have pushed for a TED-talk-style-walk-and-talk-on-the-stage setup, I've always insisted that we have a podium that's just off to the side with a fixed mic. Some people just prefer to have something to stand behind, and we can trot that out as plan B for a speaker who wants it. I've had situations where we've briefed the speakers ahead of time, but once I'm walking them through what the stage setup is when they arrive, they've looked around and said "Um. So I'm just standing in the middle of the stage?"

"You don't have to. Would you like a podium?"

"That would be great!"

"It just so happens we have one..."

Is the speaker comfortable and able to be themselves? Great! Mission accomplished! Screw your "look."

The article digs into this - not so much with the mics but with things like chairs and stages and such; "just make sure" can be a real budgeting issue, even before you get to the Murphy's Law elements of producing an event. (Budgeting not helped by the fact that hotels and other conference venues tend to charge top dollar for every little thing, mics and audio gear included.)

Yeah, this. So much this. Depending on the venue you're running the event in, you're sometimes contractually stuck with their in-house A/V provider, who can be good or not, depending on where you're at and who they are: "You want HOW MUCH for an extra wireless SM58 we can have on hand in case we need it? Are you shitting me? I can buy one for less!"

The key for the tech doing this is respectful communication ("I have to attach the pack to your bra strap now, is that OK? Can I feed this cable through your clothes?") and uncompromising respect for the performer's boundaries. If they don't want you to do it, you're not doing it.

Yes! And the reason I want that extra handheld 58 on hand is in case someone who's speaking nopes out of the threading through their garments. It puts me in a position to say "No problem. You can use this microphone instead." And for some people, having something to hold on to is actually comforting. I've also had situations where people were naturally fidgety and/or wearing something that was generating all sort of garment-rustling noise over the lavalier mic, so we just turned it off and handed them the 58. Problem solved.

New speakers don't generally know what to ask.

This is a really good point. This is why a questionnaire for speakers is a must. It's standard practice to ask attendees if they have accessibility requirements, dietary restrictions, and so on. You can do the same for speakers, so they don't have to ask. It's just good planning.

And one final thing on accessibility: like pretty much everything about accessible design, it has benefits for people who are temporarily abled-bodied as well. If you've ever had a speaker, a little keyed-up and nervous, do a faceplant or near-faceplant on their way on or off the stage via stairs, a ramp eliminates that danger.

Because no stairs.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:00 AM on June 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


While it's important that professional conference organizers be on top of these things...

There are so many events that have first time organizers trying to figure out the logistics of everything, it's super-easy to drop the ball on some stuff that they wouldn't have ever considered before. Event planning is a ball of stress beyond imagination, and if you're new to it you'll fail at a ton of stuff your first few times (if you work hard, it'll be new things you fail at each time).

I think some of the responsibility should be pushed onto the venues. It's their job to create a space where people can run an event, some logistics (like how to get on their stage, how the speakers are supposed to sit) are within the responsibility of the venue to have accommodations for. Their defaults should not be unfriendly. More than that, it very well might be against the law for them to create venue's that someone in a wheelchair literally can't use (for example).

Adding to the normal stress that (new) event creators have to deal with is the possibility than any change to the hotel/venue's default arrangement are going to cost more money (no, no, you can't move a chair, our union folks have to move chairs) makes the situation even worse.
posted by el io at 10:45 AM on June 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’m a woman. I speak at a few conferences and events every year and I always ask what the seating is, what microphones will be used, etc., because I used to attend conferences and paid attention. If a novice presenter doesn’t ask the first time, I’d bet that that person does the next time. If a novice organizer doesn’t give presenters enough information or ask the right questions, perhaps that person could be enlightened by experience speakers.
Here on the Blue, I notice that many commenters don’t approve when a person with actual experience in the field mentioned in the FFP makes a comment.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:47 PM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sorry if you felt like I stepped on your toes, Ideefixe. I did try to acknowledge that asking about seating seemed like a smart idea. I may have been reacting to a percieved implication in your original statement that anyone who didn't ask that question was dumb and deserved what they got. I'm sure that wasn't your intent, but your comment kinda read that way to me.

I still think that it would be better if organizers and venues tried to simply avoid creating situations like this at all, since I think it's pretty inevitable that not all presenters will know to ask that question, and that understandable naiveté shouldn't result in them having to expose themselves to the audience. I think if you're being asked to come talk, your hosts should try to give you a setup that's accommodating of as wide a range of normal clothing choices (and body types, and genders, and levels of physical ability) as possible. It just seems like the professional thing to do.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:57 PM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


The event planner was very pleased with the "VIP" area they created -- stairs that led to a see-through (glass?) platform above the rank-and-file.
A literal glass ceiling.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:54 PM on June 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


put a full-size wireless mic on a desk stand for each participant

Your event planner will hate you. Your conference panel/guests/attendees will love you.

If you have or rent an automixer like Shure's then you can even browse MeFi during the event....
posted by mikelieman at 1:49 AM on June 24, 2018


Your event planner will hate you. Your conference panel/guests/attendees will love you.

It seems like a lot of the problems being talked about here result from event planners wanting to do things that the panelists and audience actually tend to dislike. Like, I'm getting the impression that there are fashion trends in panel organization, and some of them involve doing things to achieve a certain "look" that might seem "dynamic" or "on trend" on a brochure or whatever but which make life harder for the people actually participating. Sounds like maybe some people need to get their priorities straight?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:32 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Don’t like the chair? Ask the organizer to change it.

This was me the first (and probably last) time I wore a shortish skirt to a panel discussion that wound up having us all seated on chairs a riser (with no table) so the first row audience were basically staring up my skirt. I go all kindly brontosaurus on them "Oh hey let's find a way so people aren't staring up my skirt?" and am fortunate that I have the combination of clout and tenacity to pull this off so I'll just stand there until they find a way to make it work. Not everyone can do this.

And I tend to speak at library conferences which are usually done by an ad hoc committee and when you ask about seating they just flat out have no idea and can't find out. In fact I've had specific stipulations in my contract (must have laptop on podium with me so I can read my notes from it - yes I know I could do that from my phone, I prefer not to) and still not been able to get those handled, and waited while someone found a 20' VGA cable... at a conference I was keynoting.

I've gone to tech conferences too and have been amazed at the level of sophistication for events that are professionally put on by professional staff. I've gotten to the point where I've decided to get more involved with my local state conference just so I can model good practice for not just asking about technology needs but also enforcing microphone use and accessible stage areas. I get that people have a lot on their minds, but continuing to put inclusion and accessibility at the front of people's minds (while trying not ot be a jerk about it) has become a crusade of mine lately.
posted by jessamyn at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


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