Speaking of Speaking...
This week on Overtime, we talk all things design events and conferences—which ones to attend, gender representation on stage, and tips for giving a good talk and sending speaking proposals. Plus, we get a bonus visit from special typography correspondent Ryan Arruda to deliver the latest type news.
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Meg: Doodly boop boop! This is Overtime, Dribbble’s weekly podcast that explores the most interesting design news and – and – and, I’ll give you the tips you need to create your best work. I’m your host, Meg. “Ayo Baby” Lewis, and my job is to have opinions and stuff on design news and design topics. This week on Overtime, we talk all things design events and conferences – which ones to go to, gender representation on stage, tips for giving a good talk, and sending speaking proposals. We’ll also get a b-b-b-bonus visit from special correspondent, Ryan Arruda, to deliver the latest type news.
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Alrighty, righty, righty. For our first news story today, designer illustrator Pablo Stanley and friends launched a website that I’m excited about called alldesignconferences.com, which showcases design events and structured conferences around the world. It shows their dates, you can click on them to go to the website, you can see how much they cost, and they even have a spreadsheet version. It’s incredible for organized people, like myself. I’m actually not that organized, but I love it when somebody else is organized for me. I just find this list to be the most comprehensive list that I’ve seen out there. And normally, I keep a list on my own. So, it’s really helpful that somebody else has done the work for me. And what I do is I use design conferences. First of all, I love them, but I also use them as an excuse to travel and write it off on my taxes and use it as a business expense. So, what I like to do, and what you can use this website for – what I plan to use it for, is looking at cities or countries you want to visit and then checking out an event in that city. And then boopity boop, you have a tax write off trip. Oh, yeah.
And I think that’s really cool. So, you can even submit events if they’re not on there. So, I think they’re trying to make this as comprehensive of a list as possible. Obviously, they’re going to miss some. I’m sure they have. So, you can go on there and submit one, which I think is pretty neat-o. But I think that it also makes it easier to find events near you and figure out what niche events are available because there are a lot of events that are tailored towards very specific people doing very specific jobs, and I love that.
Alldesignconferences.com, I think, is extra helpful for me because I keep a list on the side of my own that I reference all the time because I send out a lot of speaking proposals because I do a lot of talking. And this website is going to be helpful for me because, and this is not an ad by the way, it’s really sounding like it because I’m all for this website. I just really like it. It’s going to be very helpful for me. But what I like to do is, I email the conference organizers, or I just find the email on the conference website and I email them a proposal for speaking or teaching a workshop. And so, I think this website is going to be extremely helpful for that. So, I’m pretty pumped.
I think there have been other websites that have been launched that are similar and I definitely encourage you to check that out. They also link to those websites on the all design conferences website. So, what is the URL? It’ alldesigngconferences.com. So, check it out.
Let’s move on to our next news story. So, this topic is charged. It’s about gender representation at design conferences. And look people, when it comes to representing the world and the countries that events are happening in, we want the speakers to reflect the audience and vice versa, right? We want everyone to be able to see a speaker on the stage and be able to see themselves in that person and resonate with them. And so, if we have speakers that have different backgrounds, or life histories and different, you know, worldviews, it’s going to help resonate with the audience better and create a better event.
So, AIGA’s Eye on Design did the work to gather the stats on a lot of the major design conferences in 2019 and surveyed what the gender of the speakers were. So, it’s no surprise that they said 66.6% of these conferences had more men speaking than any other gender. And this is just a gender breakdown, we’re not talking about anything else right now. But look, this topic is exhausting. And as a woman who speaks a lot, I feel like I have a lot to say about it, and not much at the same time.
So, I’ll tell my own personal story, and I don’t experience a lot of sexism in my work because I largely do everything by myself. I don’t work with that many people – I am self-employed. And so, I’ve surrounded myself with a community of extremely supportive people that have always lifted me up, and the biggest time that I’ve experienced a lot of sexism was with speaking because whenever I first got started speaking, more often than not, a conference organizer would reach out to me and say, “Hey, Meg, we got in trouble last year for not having enough women at our event, and so we asked around and people recommended you. Would you like to speak this year?” And that made me feel like garbage because I had a lot of cool things to talk about and I was excited to get the opportunity, but not this way. Not just because I’m a woman and someone recommended me because you didn’t know any women. That felt really bad. And yeah, I’m sure there’s probably definitely a lot of sexism with this issue, but as I’ve learned and gotten to know a lot of conference organizers, it seems to be an issue now of them scared to ask someone to speak when there is little to no proof of them being a good or a bad speaker.
So, they don’t know if somebody is going to be engaging. And what happens is a lot of the same people are rotating the same circuits and they’re just taking from those people because it’s easy and they know that those people are good, and it works. So, sometimes they go that easy route, and they ask those people. But of course, what happens is that we get the same speakers over and over and over again. That’s happened to me before where, once I was in the speaking circuit, I was getting asked a lot because conference organizers would look at the websites of other conferences and say, “Okay, this is a speaker, this is a person who talks and people keep bringing them back to events. So, I will ask them too.” And I noticed with myself that as soon as there would be a lull in speaking inquiries, I wouldn’t get any more. Like, it just either comes all at once or it goes away altogether because nobody sees you as a speaker anymore on the websites.
So, what do we do when men, or really any certain kind of person, are largely already in the circuit and organizers can expect high-quality content from them? I think it’s on each of us to assess our own place in the world and our own skill set to help lift others up in a way that’s unique to our own ability and voice. So, for me, as someone who has definitely had to push for my own voice to be accepted by event organizers, I now have a lot of experience with pushing hard to sell myself as a speaker. So, I have the unique experience and ability to share that knowledge and teach underrepresented voices, and generally, anyone who has less speaking experience to define their message and send those proposals out that take that big trust question mark out of organizers’ minds.
So, together, we can help each other to move that and push that needle forward and change peoples’ minds. That’s all I want to do. So, this is a totally charged topic and one where I can’t speak on a lot of points because I don’t have the same experience as every other human in the world. But I can do a lot to lift others up by sharing my own knowledge and the information that I’ve gathered along the way and then shutting up and supporting them in their voice. So, if there’s one thing I recommend to you, in order to help amplify and support the voices of other people that don’t look like you or have a similar life experience to yours, is assess what you can do to help lift them up and remember that it’s about them and it’s not about you.
Okay, so, in order to be valuable, I’d like to give some speaking tips for those of you who are interested in speaking or maybe people who are seasoned speakers or workshop teachers or anybody who’s getting in front of a large group of people. So, I think the first thing to think about if you’re interested in speaking is why are you doing it? I speak because I’m generally quiet in large groups and it helps me because I’m slightly introverted in that way. It helps me to have everybody just kind of sitting down and listening to me and not able to talk back to me because it helps me to get across all of my points and then everybody can walk away having heard all sides of my issue and what I’m talking about in my perspective, which I think is really helpful. Because if I’m in a group setting, somebody will interrupt me, we’ll start talking about pizza rolls, and then later, I would have forgotten to make this really huge point that I wanted to make. So, it helps me to get across my unique perspective in that way.
But also, I recommend choosing a topic where you have a very niche area of expertise, or a totally unique perspective on the world in a way that’s so unique to you and unlike anybody else. So, I think whenever you do that and figure out what that is, it’s totally refreshing, and it will be unlike anyone else’s talk or workshop because you have something completely unique to offer that is unique to you and to your history and your perspective. So, if you aren’t able to figure out what that might be for you, what that unique perspective or topic is, I recommend asking friends, co-workers, people that love you and know you. Ask them, “If you think I could give a talk on anything, what do you think it would be? What are my unique perspectives? What do I have to offer the world?”
I’ve also found that when you’re having a conversation with somebody, sometimes you say something to them that seems so second nature to you. It’s just obvious but they respond shocked, saying, I never thought of it that way. Every time that happens to you, and you say something that seems so obvious, and other people seem to think it’s not, write those things down, because those are things that you have to offer the world that come easily to you. So, whenever you’re talking and choosing a topic, I like to pick something that I just know well, it’s something that I can talk about with ease, it’s not something that I have to rehearse a bunch of times get all the words just right. I like to pick topics of things that I’m really comfortable talking about. That way I can feel like I’m just talking about it and not having to get all nervous and amped up for something that I’ve rehearsed a million times because I want to say it exactly the perfect way.
So, a lot of people are afraid of public speaking and I do not blame you. I totally understand. It’s terrifying. And so, what I like to do is choose that topic that just kind of flows out of your mouth. It helps to make the process seem easier and put less pressure on yourself, and I love that. And what I also try to do is never strive for perfection. I think “perfect” isn’t real, because we can never make anything perfect. It’s just not going to happen no matter how hard we try. I like to strive for about 85% perfection because something will always go wrong. You’ll always screw up in tiny ways. I do it every time. Anything and everything that could go wrong has gone wrong to me. I’ve had audio and visuals not work more often than not. I’ve had only two people show up to a talk once. One time, I tripped. One time, I started crying for no reason because I was overwhelmed. People have booed me a couple of times. I’ve hit someone in the audience twice for some reason during a talk. It was intense and everything has gone wrong.
But what I’ve learned to do is kind of treat it like stand up where you have to have the sort of open mindset of learning and growing as you go and remember, “Okay, maybe I won’t bring those confetti streamers again because I may hit somebody in the chest two times in a row.” So, assess what went wrong and how you handle it in the moment, and you’ll be able to be easier on yourself and less, you know, less hard on yourself and self-deprecating as you go. But like stand up, what I like to do is listen, because I improvise 95% of my talks. I don’t know what I’m going to talk about. I let my slides guide me, but I treat it like stand up to where if a specific joke or point that I made, particularly lands, I make a mental note of it and try to say it like that the next time – usually I forget. And that helps me to always grow and change and make my content a little bit better.
But, definitely showing up and participating in the event, like showing up both mentally and physically being at the event helps. Every time I speak at an event or teacher workshop, just from kind of meandering around the event and talking to people and hanging out with them, I make great friends. But I also get clients and I get more speaking opportunities. And a lot more happens to me in the social situations before and after my talk than anything, and I love that part so much. So, it really helps to show up and actually participate and not be that person that just breezes in and breezes out for your talk. But don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what a talk is.
When I first started speaking, I was very sweet and had a grandiose idea of, “I don’t want to be like any speaker. Why does everybody just show slides and stand behind the podium and click on throughout the slides?” And I was like, “I’m going to juggle, I’m going to do magic tricks. I’m going to dress up like a clown. I’m going to throw things out the audience. It’s going to be multi-sensory, and interactive.” And so, I did it and it was really fun. Everybody liked it, but most people were like, this is distracting and not useful. So, what I like to do now is something in between where I throw things at the audience, I do some fun stuff. But my primary objective is to make the talk useful so that people walk away having learned something and feel like it was entertaining, but also extremely useful.
So, another huge tip that I have for you is submitting proposals. So if you’re somebody who wants to get into speaking and you don’t know how to start, like I mentioned earlier, I submit a lot of proposals, and I have about an 85% “yes” rate whenever I send a proposal, which I think is really great. And it took me a really long time to actually muster the courage to send the proposal because it sounded both needy and also like, I don’t know, just elitist to feel like I deserve to speak on stage in front of other people. But somebody told me this new, refreshing perspective was that you actually are helping to save organizers’ time and you’re helping them to branch out their own perspective and find somebody that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to find on their own. And I think that’s pretty cool. So, it kind of helps them out at the same time.
What I like to do with my proposals is I send them out to organizers or event websites, and email addresses. I send them out usually soon after an event just happened so that I can get in ahead of the game before they’ve picked their speakers for the next year, and that seems to work really well for me. But inside of the proposal – what do I put?
I’ve seen a lot of other speakers’ proposals and they usually have one sheets that give information on themselves, what the title of the talk is, what the description of the talk is, and maybe a picture of themselves. For my proposals, they’re like really long PDF decks that I create where I outline myself, and what I do, and why I’m an expert. So, you have to sort of solidify who you are and why you deserve to be talking about this.
Then, if I can, or if you can, show a link to video proof that you are good at speaking. So, it doesn’t even have to be at an event. It could just be you talking in any capacity – that helps. So, if you have a workshop video, if you have other speaking videos, that’s great put it in. But if you don’t have it, you don’t need it. But it certainly helps if you do.
So, after that I mention my talk title, a workshop title, whatever I’m proposing, and I give a description. So, that’s super important. And then after that, I outline some bullet points of why that talk, or workshop is unique. Why is it different than anybody else’s talk and workshop? Why can I offer something that is unique to me that no one else is talking about yet?
And then on the last page of my proposal, my favorite thing to do is, I include a whole page about why I’m a good catch from an organizer’s point of view. So why do organizers love having me at the event? I have a testimonial from an organizer, but I also have some facts about myself: the fact that I stick around, and I party with the attendees, and I like to hang out a lot and have fun and make new friends. That is hugely appealing for an organizer. So, I make sure that I put that in there. So, if you’re a good communicator, you get things to people on time, you’re really fun to interact with, put all of those things in, because that really matters from an organizer’s point of view. Remember, you’re trying to sell yourself to this specific organizer, as well as outline why you would be impactful for their community. So, make sure that those two goals are completed by the end of creating your proposal.
So, go to it, get that proposal made, don’t be afraid to send it out. If they say no, that’s okay. Because remember, they’re creating a lineup and hoping to have different perspectives and different types of topics. And so, if you don’t get approved, it just means that, for me, I always comfort myself by saying, “Okay, well, they probably already have the other fun, goofy, light hearted person in the slot already, so, of course they don’t have room for me.” So, just justify it in whatever way you want. But create that proposal and it’s going to be really successful for you. And, it’s a great opportunity to fight for yourself, which is super important.
Yow, I am tired of speaking about speaking. Are you tired of listening to me speaking about speaking? Yep, I bet you are. Let’s freshen up our ear holes by hearing about the latest news in the cutthroat, but beautiful world of type. So, let’s check in with our first ever correspondent Ryan Arruda, who is reporting live from an undisclosed bunker. Over to you, Ryan.
Ryan: Thanks, Meg. It’s been roughly 357,600 days since movable type made a splash upon humanity’s existence, and believe you me, things are as raucous as ever in the world of type design, typography and all things glyph related. Now, here at overtime, we’re working hard to stay abreast of all the pertinent happenings in the world of design, so we’re here with a roundup of some of the typographic news that will surely get your serifs swooning and your glyphs all a’Twitter.
First up, let’s take a trip to the Mid-Atlantic region to see what Delaware-based darlings, House Industries are cooking up. It just so happens that they’ve just released the carnival type face family. This one-weight reverse contrast slab serif is not at a loss for personality. It exudes a goofy confidence. Yes, it’s lanky and strangely proportioned, but it owns that fact with an assured glyph-eating grin. And it’s not shy to be who it is. Its thick horizontal slabs paired with its skinny middle strokes make it a choice display face for projects aplenty. It commands attention, at the very least, from its peculiar construction.
Now, where my you have seen typefaces similar to this new release? Well, like its namesake, think carnivals. Or think circus posters that advertise old timey tilt-a-whirl’s, or strong men who lift trapezoidal one-ton free weights, or you know where some poor sap may or may not be trying to hold a roaring lion at bay with just a barstool and a riding crop.
The typeface expresses a certain amount of folly and its modern take on a vintage styling can certainly be leveraged for impressive typographic stopping power – as long as it gets in the hands of all the talented designers out there listening to Overtime. Rest easy though, friends. The carnival type face has much more range of applications and projects than where boxes of popcorn rig games of skill paper cones of cotton candy and gruff carnival barkers are involved.
Formerly a typeface used exclusively in House Industries projects, Carnival was digitized and expanded by Dan Reynolds in 2013, having originally been a photo type design from Photo Lettering Inc, which expanded it from its original designs back in the 1940s. Carnival is available for purchases as both desktop and web fonts so be sure to visit House Industries for all the details.
Onto our next story, if you’re looking to class up your typographic spread, but you’re not quite ready to embrace the aesthetic constraints of some classic old-style serif. Now, you know the kind that wears its khakis a bit too high, smells of pipe tobacco, sports a generic navy-blue windbreaker, it offers you butterscotch candies – no, no. No need to fear as Grilli Type has just released a brand-new serif typeface that is fit for the modern times we live in.
Their new GT Alpina collection is a serif family that does indeed possess a dignified air at first glance, but once you look closer, you see it is not shy about letting its quirks or expressive traits be seen if full force. Featuring over 70 styles and with character sets supporting over 50 languages, this new serif collection features a myriad of possibilities that lay before you. In addition to condensed and extended widths, which offer you expanded typographic range, the family also contains special display cuts as well.
The fine styles allow GT Alpina to exude more of its display traits by accentuating contrast in its letterforms. And it’s in these offerings that the typeface’s funky-as-all-get-out ball terminals really stand out. When you see them, you quickly understand that this is a serif that’s ready to ditch the shuffleboard court for the casino floor.
Adding to its versatility, the collection also offers a monospace typewriter style so you can even put the GT Alpina family to use in those persnickety projects where spacing and alignment must be uniform. Conversely, the limitations of the monospace design allow for the typographic quirks of the cut to really shine. So, don’t be afraid to use them in creative ways. But dear listeners, don’t take this reporter’s word for it. Grilli type offers an immersive micro site to get you a comprehensive feel for the GT Alpina family. So, you’re going to want to dive right into the typographic ball pit with all deliberate speed. Head on over to GT-Alpina.com – that’s GT-Alpina.com.
Now, we know friends, these days there’s just about a subscription for every service under the sun. Be it streaming entertainment, hipster toothbrushes, monthly haberdashery boxes, on demand meal kits, you name it. Let’s take a moment right now to just appreciate that there exists a subscription which will exclusively support your typographic design bone and it’s worth every penny of its very low monthly cost. Forget beer soccer jelly of the month clubs, friends. You need to open your eyes to the very real Font to the Month Club. A project of type designer extraordinaire, David Jonathan Ross, the Font of the Month Club gives you exactly that – a lovingly crafted typeface into your designer hands each and every month. Ross’ offering spans the gamut of typographic personality from steady handed workhorses to bragadocious display cuts that aren’t afraid to be loud.
And now, that’s the fun of the experience as well, friends. You don’t know what to expect with each surprise release, but you know that it’s going to be good. A typographic sure thing if ever there was such a unicorn. In fact, January’s Font of the Month Club selection is a lively, offbeat offering: Gimlet X-ray. It’s a variable didone font which retains the typeface’s nodes and Bezier curves for all to see. It’s like a typeface that wears its insides right on the outside. Not only is it a striking, eye-catching offering, but it’s one which offers a side of typographic education along the way.
So, here’s the facts, dear listeners. For as little as six bucks a month, you too can get delightful additions to your type library you know, for less than the price of a single organic artisinal Cajun cruelty-free whole bran muffin. Believe that, friends. Head over to fontofthemonth.club for more information.
Alrighty, that’s all for this installment of worldly typographic happenings. Reporting live from an undisclosed bunker somewhere in bucolic central Massachusetts, I’m Ryan Arruda with your typographic roundup. Back to you, Meg.
Meg:: Well, thank you, Ryan. That was very interesting, and we look forward to having him back in the future.
And that’s it for this week’s episode of overtime. If you want to continue the conversation on the internet, use the hashtag #DribbbleOvertime. And if you love this episode, you know what to do. Let us know by leaving a review, subscribe, yada, yada, yada. And don’t forget to tweet or tag me, Meg Lewis, on the internet. I’m @darngooood, with four “O’s.”
And this week, I launched a trailer for my new podcast that surprisingly has nothing to do with design. It’s a part parody, part useful, comedy meditation podcast and it’s actually quite relaxing and quite funny. At the same time! It’s called “Sit There and Do Nothing” and you can listen to the trailer and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Bye. See you next week, buddies.