Michael Christofides: Some thoughts on Postgres events

Photo from PGDay UK 2023, credit: Jimmy Angelakos

This month’s PGSQL Phriday topic, proposed by Pavlo Golub, is Postgres Events.

I recorded an episode of Postgres FM on this with Nikolay, but somehow even in 52 minutes I didn’t manage to cover a couple of things I wanted to share, so here we are.

IRL events

Pavlo mentions in his invitation that “we all know that the community’s heartbeat lies in PostgreSQL Events”. I’m not sure I fully agree, but it certainly seems like a shortcut to getting embraced if you’re new and want to get involved!

I’m a big fan of local meet-ups and try to attend any near me when they happen. I was also honoured to be invited to be on the talk selection committee for PGConf EU 2022, which was a lot of work, but a nice way to meet people and give back a little. More recently, I gave my first in person Postgres talk at PGDay UK 2023, which was terrifying but an overall very positive experience.

In person events are a huge amount of work to put on. I hope we can figure out ways to pay the folks organising them, and also to facilitate more peer to peer connections at them.

Online events

During the travel-restricted years of 2020 and 2021, there were tons of online events. I personally attended a lot of these, and gave a couple of explain related talks myself (a beginner’s guide, and a beyond the basics talk). It was nice to get to know a few people better through these, but that part was pretty incomparable to in person events in my experience. I also found myself working between talks more, and attending a far lower proportion of them, than an in person event — I guess that’s natural.

I thought more events would stay online, or at least go hybrid, given the wider reach possible there. I totally get that recording is tricky and expensive though, and admire the events that are able to pull it off.

There are all sorts of other kinds of online events in the community, here are a few I’m aware of and have had good experiences attending/watching/following along:

Speaking at events

While far from an experienced speaker myself, I have learnt a couple of things over the past few years that I thought might be useful for new speakers:

  1. It’s OK (encouraged) to submit 2-3 talk abstracts to the same event! This helps the selectors if there is a topic clash, and increases your chances of submitting a talk that will be a good fit.

  2. Practice helps, but you may still rush or go too slowly (especially if you encourage questions throughout). I’ve found bonus slides a good solution to this, that can be covered if you have time, but aren’t needed for the talk to make sense and be useful.

  3. If you share contact details, very few people will actually get in touch, but you’ll get some of the nicest messages this way 🙂

If you’re considering giving a talk for the first time, but nervous about it, or want to practice, I’d be happy to be a friendly first listener. The Postgres community is wonderful, but I feel we could be doing more to encourage new speakers, and I’d like to help if I can.

Sponsoring events

Finally, many events would not be possible without commercial sponsorships, or a single company backing them. I want to thank everyone who does put money and time into these.

As a small self/customer-funded business, with relatively low prices, we have so far only sponsored a couple of smaller events, but we hope to find ways to support more events in future.

Thank you Pavlo for the topic and invitation this month — what a lovely event 🙂