Forming A Conference Talk

Writing with a fountain pen - Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash (
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash (


In recent years I've considered giving various talks but never actually went through with it. Throughout my time collaborating with others on design systems, there has been a recurring theme of uncertainty around responsibilities. As I've been working deeper in design systems lately, my personal view has grown. It's time for me to share that view with a wider audience.


There was a Twitter post that really sparked my thought process of where this talk was headed. That post was from Aletheia Délivré and her thread of 7 ideas about design systems that have impressed her the most.

"Design systems are everybody's business." — Aletheia Délivré

Aletheia wrote that "design systems are like community gardens". Everyone must take part in nurturing and growing their garden. She also wrote, "design systems benefit from bringing in context, meaning, and insights from users".

An image comparing baking with design systems from a tweet by Aletheia Délivré
"Design systems benefit from bringing in context, meaning, and insights from users." — Aletheia Délivré
An image of a community garden that says "sow, nurture, repeat" from a tweet by Aletheia Délivré
"Design systems are like community gardens. Like gardens, design systems need sowing, pruning, and constant care. And they need gardeners who can help the system evolve with time, and in time." — Aletheia Délivré

It was these two ideas that grounded my understanding of what a design system is. The design system is a system of systems, beginning with a small community garden and scaling to a farmer's market for many communities to gather together. We are all part of these systems. This was the analogy I would use to write my conference talk.


It will be my first conference talk. Ideally, this would be low stakes and a good foundation to build on. At Xero, where I currently work on the Design Systems Team, there was an opportunity of reaching my goal. Xero had recently started an annual internal conference (XCITE: Xero Conference, an Internal Technology Event), and it's the perfect platform to give my talk. Not only would I be able to reach my goal of doing a conference talk. But I would also be able to spread the community aspect of a design system to the community at Xero! So many wins! 🙌

Writing an abstract

Submissions for XCITE are due mid-August, so it's time to write a 500-word abstract of what my talk will be about. Using FigJam, I added everything I have in my head about my purpose, goal, and the evolving idea of a community garden scaling to a farmers market. I'm a visual person, and it helps me to see my ideas on one large canvas. It allows me to connect related ideas, form a progression of ideas, and cull anything that may not have the impact I'm looking for.

A FigJam board showing my ideas and though process around creating a talk for XCITE 2022
Gettings ideas out of my head using FigJam

Next steps

Before I submit my abstract for review, I need to align my team on the message and ensure that I'm not missing any gaps. I'll be presenting to all Xero as a UX Engineer on the Design Systems Team about how we as a whole should collaborate and contribute to our design system. For this talk to create positive change successfully, my entire team has to be aligned.

Once my abstract has been submitted, it's time to wait for my submission to be reviewed. After the review process finishes, I find out if my talk has been selected to be a part of XCITE 2022. If I get chosen 🤞 then the real work begins. Actually writing and preparing for my talk set for early November.

Thoughts? Send me a tweet!