Conference Stereotypes

Recently the OPC Web Team attended the DrupalSouth/DrupalGov conference at Hotel Realm, and it was an amazing two days of good talks, good food and good people.

While my thoughts on that will solidify into a blog post soon, I was instantly hit with the realisation that all conferences have the same types of people no matter what the topic is, from DrupalSouth to the International Shower Curtain Conference.

The Stenographer

No matter what the presenter is doing, whether they are taking a sip of water, or messing around with the zoom option on their Linux laptop, this person is writing a novel, probably on a mechanical keyboard… and is sitting right behind you.

What are they typing?  Are they the official scribe, typing out everything that’s been said?  Are they just a breeze in off the street working on the Great Novel of the 21st Century in the comfort of air-conditioning, or are they just practising Typing Tutor?

Whatever it is, it seems important.

The Photographer

Not to be confused with the Official Photographer, who is an important member of any large conference, going around snapping photos of attendees, ‘The Photographer’ is the person in the presentation taking a photo of every slide with their phone, apparently forgetting that the talks are being recorded on video, and most presenters make their slides available after the event.

Are they really paying attention to the presenter, or are they playing a weird version of SlideShow Pokemon Go…. gotta snap ‘em all!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

First out of the room before a break and last into a talk once the food has been served, this attendee is in it for the biscuit.

They know their way around a conference buffet, so their plate will be piled high with the good stuff.  No room on the plate for the cheap salad, their plate will be over flowing with the Chorizo Sliders and Beef and Red Wine party pies.

The Socialite

This person doesn’t know who is presenting, and probably doesn’t even know how many rooms there are, they are there to catch up with friends they only get to see at conferences.  Usually seen milling around the check-in desk or outside the entrances to the talks, they only go to a talk when there is no one left to talk to in the general area.

The Procrastinating Presenter

This breed of attendee can only be seen from behind, because only then can you see they are on their laptop rearranging their slides and making notes.

In their mind they say they aren’t procrastinating, but are integrating other peoples talks into theirs, and keeping their presentation up to date, but we all know they had months to put something together…

The Social Network

The most dangerous person at any conference, ‘The Social Network’ is a combination of the Stenographer, Photographer and Socialite all rolled into one.

When in a presentation, they are on their laptop posting to Twitter and LinkedIn about the topic of the talk, not the substance of the talk, just the topic, because they are too busy blogging to actually listen to what’s being said.  And each post needs a photo of a slide to go along with it, otherwise they can’t prove they were really there.

And then during the breaks they are pressing the flesh, and every handshake comes with a business card.

Which one are you?

With a bit of self-reflection, I would say I am a “Very Hungry Socialite” when it comes to Drupal conferences, and I can report that the food and company at the recent DrupalSouth/DrupalGov were both up to my high standards.

Oh, those lemon meringue tarts were delicious… and the sparkling water on tap, genius.

Date posted:
06 December 2018
Authored by :
Toby Wild