Speaker Story: Margot Gabel

Design conference speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. With Speaker Story, we interview speakers and share the stories behind their talks. In each interview, we ask how they get started, what they have learned from being on stage, and specific advice for aspirant speakers. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started. We kick off this new series with Margot Gabel, Lead Designer at Build in Amsterdam.

Hello! Who are you and how did you get into public speaking?

My name is Margot Gabel, I am a Lead Designer at Build in Amsterdam which I joined in 2015. Last year I've been invited to talk about my work for the Frans Hals Museum platform during a showcase session organised by the Dutch Digital Design collective at the FITC Amsterdam conference.

Margot Gabel

What do you like about speaking at conferences?

I believe knowledge sharing is a powerful way to leave a long-lasting impact. This applies especially to the topic of Web Accessibility I am approaching in my lectures. I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts to help and inspire creators to build more inclusive products.

On which topic do you typically speak about?

I currently focus on my obsession with accessible and inclusive design practices. My team and I had to build a fully accessible (WCAG compliant) digital flagship store for the Dutch design brand Moooi and that was a first for us at Build in Amsterdam. We encountered many challenges along with new interesting ways to approach UX/UI and code with Web Accessibility in mind. I think it is important that I share our process and findings with others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

Do you remember your first conference talk? How did it go?

My first talk ever happened last year at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam with a 300+ crowd and 9 large screens around me. I only had 15min to go through one of my favorite project, the Frans Hals Museum platform. I was completely terrified and had to get some public speaking coaching classes! 😳 But I rehearsed so much that before I even realised that I was actually speaking in front of a crowd, it was already finished and everyone was applauding. The experience was very enjoyable, it is quite something to see people actively listening to your story, laughing, taking pictures of your slides (my presentation was a very large panoramic to fits the unusual room setting).

How many conferences have you applied to and spoken at? Or how many times have you been asked to speak at conferences?

So far I've been invited to FITC Amsterdam in 2019 through the Dutch Digital Design collective (I volunteered there as an MC in February this year actually just for fun!) I've also been asked to speak at Digital Design Days (May+October 2020) and for Awwwards Academy in September 2020. I am considering applying for Config conference from Figma!

If you give a talk with slides, what platform/tools do you use to create the presentation?

Keynote is still my favorite tool so far as it can handle videos, sounds, and have nice transitions you can easily play with. Magic Move is my guilty pleasure!

How much time do you normally spend on preparing your lecture?

That depends on the format of the talk. I try to rehearse a lot, once a day the week before the event. I will build my slides in different sessions over weekends and always share them with colleagues and friends while in progress to gather feedback and improve the story. I would say that it's not about the amount of time you spend on your lecture, it's about making sure to deliver relevant insights!

Do you have a pre-talk routine?

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

I never thought I would ever be a speaker myself, only to find out after my first talk that I truly enjoyed it and am now looking forward to my upcoming lectures every single time.
— Margot Gabel

What advice do you have for new speakers?

Dare to do it! I never thought I would ever be a speaker myself, only to find out after my first talk that I truly enjoyed it and am now looking forward to my upcoming lectures every single time. Practicing is the only way to build confidence, so prepare accordingly. If you are confident with your story, the rest will follow. It is more rewarding to rehearse your speech than to spend countless hours refining your slides.

Through giving public talks, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

It made me realize that the message I delivered really resonated with people. Making the Web accessible to everyone is vital. Sharing my story through public talks reinforced my will to help as many creators as possible to build inclusive products.

Are there any other speakers you look up to? Anyone who’s inspired you?

The first name popping in my mind is our Creative Director and Founder Daan Klaver, he was the one who first pushed me to do public speaking. He gave numerous talks across the globe these last years and helped me overcome my stage fright. I also always enjoy watching Claudio Guglieri's talks, he knows how to put on a show and builds beautiful slides.

Where can we go to learn more about you?


Upcoming speaking engagements?

Margot will be speaking at the 5th edition of Digital Design Days from October 22nd to 24rd, 2020. Join us at this global meeting point for digital designers. Get up to 75% discount on your ticket by following this link.

Invite Margot Gabel to speak at your event

Are you inspired by Margot's story and would like to invite her to speak at your public or private (online) meetup or conference. Click the button and share your event details with her.

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Share your story

Do you have experience as design conference speakers, and would like to share your story? Feel free to do so by sending an email to submit [at] neonmoire.com and we get back to you with more details.

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