Friday, October 27, 2017

Presenter Professionalism at Postgres Conferences

Andreas Scherbaum recently tweeted, “Speakers: it is NOT OK to even consider drinking alcohol during a talk! No matter how complicated your talk topic is.” The tweet has caused an interesting debate on Twitter and Facebook. It also caused me to run a poll via @amplifypostgres on the matter.

At the time of this writing almost 70% of the votes on the poll either don’t care or don’t think it is unprofessional for a presenter to drink alcohol while presenting.

One of the counter arguments to presenters consuming alcohol during presentations is that when you are presenting you are representing the conference. The conference wants you to be professional and create an environment that represents that during your talk. Fair enough, but why is it unprofessional?

This sequence of events has me wondering: what is professionalism in reference to presenting at Postgres Conferences? It is certainly not appropriate to be intoxicated while presenting at a professional conference, but that isn’t the question. The question is: why is it inappropriate for an adult to make a legal choice to take a nip or sip beer (or wine) during a presentation? Why is that more unprofessional than not wearing a tie or button up shirt, or wearing shorts or a kilt?

Professionalism is subjective.

In my opinion, my obligations to the audience are:
  • I must care about the content.
  • I must deliver what I say I will deliver.
  • I must be honest with the audience about my level of experience in the subject.
  • I must be honest about my opinions on the subject.
  • I must be a genuine version of me, minus the swearing.”
I fail at “minus the swearing” but the rest are spot on and should be our focus.

If you do not want presenters to consume alcohol during their presentations, then add it to your Code of Conduct. If it’s not in your Code of Conduct, then let adults take responsibility for themselves and present the best content possible for our community, in whatever way necessary.

Rock on and @amplifypostgres!

Disclaimer: I am writing this opinion as a frequent presenter, not as the Co-Chair of the most electrifying Postgres Conference in the world.