I go to a few conferences per year - geeky things, shuffling with the mob in and out of presentations to hear about how to do this or that incredibly fascinating thing, punctuated by periods of eating, as we bury our faces in the conference food trough, sucking down enough dry sandwiches and soda to stock a high school cafeteria.
At every one of these conferences, I get at least one shirt and sometimes more. Usually, it's just the conference t-shirt, some basic wearable that has the conference logo on the front and enough ads on the back to decorate a race car. Sometimes, I'm also speaking at the conference and I get a 'speaker' shirt, which usually looks exactly like the conference shirt, but with the special addition of the word 'speaker' on it somewhere.
Now I don't know about the events you attend, but when I see a guy standing on the stage with a microphone and a laptop, I figure it's a safe bet that he's the speaker. I don't need a shirt to give me that piece of information. And when he opens his mouth and actually speaks, I know that I nailed it.
So why do I need this shirt? If everyone knows I'm a speaker, and I know it too, then does a logo'd t-shirt really give me any more authority?
Everyone else must feel the same because I never see any of the speakers actually wearing the speaker shirts at the conference. Maybe we're just supposed to feel better because we have them in our backpacks, ready to whip out and flaunt to the crowd.
These shirts are like the bridesmaid dresses of the conference set; they have exactly one use in them and that's over the minute you leave that building. The only advantage of a speaker shirt over a bridesmaid dress for me is that at least t-shirts work for me. I look awful in yellow taffeta; it makes me look fat.
But perhaps I should wear the shirt around the house anyway. Whenever I've being disrespected by my wife, or my kids, or my dog, I'll just point to the shirt and say, "Hey, who's the speaker here? Now listen up." Then again, I already carry a microphone around the place and that hasn't done anything for me yet.