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Big Design Organizer sincerely apologizes

Note: This apology was originally posted by Brian Sullivan on his LinkedIn page. Big Design wanted to share this words with you on our site. This entry has been reposted here by volunteer staff.

I want to apologize for my recent communication about the Big Design Conference. It is clear from your feedback that many of you feel I lack respect and appreciation of our speakers. After re-reading my post, I can see why many of you think that.

Speakers, their content, and effort are the hallmark of any conference. I am always floored at the level of work that our speakers put into their talks.

Big Design Conference is a non-profit organization ran by a small volunteer team, as a labor of love. The goal is to provide a low-cost, high-value conference to support the UX community through education, community service, and professional development.

Without our volunteers, speakers, and sponsors, Big Design Conference would not exist today. My earlier post did not reflect my appreciation and admiration for them.

Instead, I reacted to an uptick in requests for travel reimbursements. Based on your feedback, it is apparent that we have an out-dated travel policy. We want to improve it.

Our goal with the new travel policy is to hear from fresh voices and alleviate the stress of speaker conference costs. We will make announcements soon. We need to figure out an equitable solution.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I am committed to making these changes.


Brian Sullivan, Big Design Organizer

3 Responses

  1. I am a conference organizer ( and I used to feel the same way that you did. Luckily my change of heart was sooner, and less public, or I might have faced the same criticism. I can tell you that my conference wasn’t making money, but I bit the bullet and implemented a policy of paying for travel, hotels, and paying a speaking fee to every single speaker and the result was astonishing. I got five times the speaker applications, which increased the quality and diversity of the talks. Sponsors lined up to help cover the costs and rather than breaking me, as I feared, the conference turned a profit for the first time. I can’t promise the same results for you, but I’ve been paying speakers for years now and my event just keeps growing.

    1. Brian Sullivan

      Paul, thanks for your insights. We should schedule a phone call. We would love to hear your process and learn from you.

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