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A Typo Talk

Early January 2016, I was asked by a representative about speaking at Typo 2016. This person insisted that Berlin needed to hear my point of view especially about SoundCloud Design.

There was quite a bit of mix of hesitation in my response because I had only been at SoundCloud for 2 months. I was still figuring out my understanding, scope and impact. The representative convinced me to consider a talk. I suggested he offer a few topics and I will brainstorm with the design team and we can reconnect.

Unsure, the design leads and I came together to chat about the opportunity. The team was in full support and suggested to commit. However, I shared that I would prefer one of the leads who had been at SoundCloud to co-present with me. Two design leaders on the team volunteered and would work together to let me know who will be my co-presenter.

Together, we did a quick brainstorm on ideas of what we could share. We realized that we were in a difficult phase at the company. We had many great designs and explorations as part of our backlogs, but not many could be implemented. Our priorities of the company were about executing on subscription services and we needed to honour our plans as a company. Two decisions were made and shared with our representative. Gerrit a lead designer for “Listener experiences” and I would share a topic about differences sources of feedback we received for our product decisions. We called our talk: “All Hail the Committees!”

Above are pictures of the event (taken from tweets). Below is a link to the video and summary of our talk on the TYPO site. We had about 400+ attendees in a large auditorium.

What worked well was our well thought out story, outline, and timed. The narrative was tied it to Alice in wonderland and I promise my experience at SoundCloud feels almost similar. One of my favourite career experiences to date.

For those that are curious on how to time and provide speaker notes for presentation, take a look at mine. Before every presentation, I read over and practices these in this format. I identify timing and three points I want to get across on the slide.

Here are some pictures of my personal experience behind the scenes.

The content we shared in this presentation is vulnerable and honest. However, it is the worst presentation I have given to date.


  • The conference audience didn’t connect with our topic
  • The other talks were more compelling
  • Co-presenter dynamic was off (I’m fast he is slow)

Great learnings. We both did the best we could. I’m proud of this talk. However, never sign up for a presentation when you can’t speak to a compelling topic with confidence. Make sure you know your audience!!!!

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