Monday Coffee: Attending Conferences

Last week I asked the following question on Twitter: –

I was interested to see the responses as I wanted to know how more experienced presenters get the time off to speak at so many events. Up until now I’ve been using annual leave and this was a way of gauging what was the general standard out there.

Well, the results showed that there is no general standard.

I had a lot of responses saying that companies would give time off and pay for travel expenses as it was viewed as training but then there were others that said the complete opposite (and everything in-between).

Btw, I’m discounting the consultants that replied. You run your own companies! 🙂

My personal opinion is that attending conferences, even as a speaker, is training. I always go to other sessions when I’ve been speaking at events, I’m not going to stay up in the speaker room all day when there are great sessions going on!

However, I can also see the company side of things, especially if there was no formal agreement in the employment contract. You are out of the office after all, and for a least part of the time, unable to work remotely (if say, needed on call).

So, I would offer having a set amount of days that I can use to attend conferences with also the option of working around hours that I’m off (if needed). That way the company gets the work they need from me and I can attend the events that I wish to.

What does your company offer?

4 thoughts on “Monday Coffee: Attending Conferences

  1. Employees of consulting companies and software companies usually get a limited number of speaking engagements paid for by their companies because they’re basically advertising the company’s services.

    With employees of other companies, there’s less of a value to the company. The company often suspects that the employee is basically advertising their own skills, which is going to end up in them getting a better job from somebody else. They’re not too keen on funding those efforts. 😉

    I tell our clients that when their employees speak, the real value is in building relationships that can end up in getting problems solved faster for that company. Plus, if the company funds some of the employee’s speaking engagements, then it’ll be even harder to steal that happy employee away to another job – as opposed to trying to chain that employee to a desk.

    • That’s a good point, thanks Brent.

      Building relationships is one of the most important aspects of going to conferences (if not the most important). Knowing people who are available in say, the Slack SQL community, that you can quickly ping a message to if you’re having an issue in their area of expertise is invaluable.

    • “With employees of other companies, there’s less of a value to the company. The company often suspects that the employee is basically advertising their own skills, which is going to end up in them getting a better job from somebody else. They’re not too keen on funding those efforts”

      I agree with the sentiment that some companies have this feeling when internal employees ask to speak at events.
      I think that’s just plain stupid of them. Because:

      * your employees need training
      * if you’re afraid your employees are going to leave because you let them speak at events, think about what will happen when you refuse and end up with an unhappy employee.

      Compromises:

      * let the speaker prepare in their own time (that’s what I do btw)
      * maybe let the speaker give the presentation again internally, to train other employees

      And as Brent said, a happy employee probably won’t leave that fast.

      • I always prepare in my own time as well but I have used meeting rooms in work (after hours) to prepare as they have projectors so I can simulate giving the presentation for real (it’s also good to see how my slides hold up from a distant).

        I’ve also given my presentations at work, again as preparation. It’s a good way for a new speaker to get into presenting and it’s good to see how the session is received.

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