An interview with Mariana Morris, Public Speaker and Founder of UX design studio Fruto Ltd

I have recently been speaking to women in tech who have built on their successful careers by moving into public speaking.

Recently I interviewed Mariana Morris, founder of UX design studio Fruto, frequent conference speaker as well as co-founder of UX Oxford, a free monthly speaking event. Catch up on her journey and many others as part of our Aspiring Women Speakers series below, sponsored by Turntabl.io.

Here is my interview with Mariana:

Do you feel that getting involved in conference speaking has helped your career?

Yes, absolutely! Speaking at conferences and local events is a great way to meet like-minded, genuinely lovely peers and potential employers/prospects.

It also helped me as an introvert. Since I started giving talks at conferences and local events, I feel much more comfortable running client meetings and workshops. Also, when you are the speaker, people tend to go to you for a chat after the talk, start conversations, so it’s great to break the ice and build relationships.

What was the defining moment that made you do your first presentation?

The first time I gave a talk was to colleagues in the company I used to work for. We had a lovely supportive team (which is important) and we used to have some informal show & tells in the company. I had just finished reading a couple of books and I wanted to share what I learned. It was a really good way to start because I got some motivating feedback from my colleagues, and I developed the talk further to present at a local event then at a conference.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone about choosing what to talk about?

Everyone has experiences and learnings worth sharing. Think of what you’ve learned in the past six months, one year or years. What you wished you knew at that time? What were your light bulb moments? What were your challenges and how did you go about it that helped get through it?

Another way is by reading about a specific topic you’re passionate about and give an introduction talk about that topic. A good way of thinking about it is: If your talk can help one person in the room, the talk is worth giving. It is always worth giving!

Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about doing their first presentation but a bit unsure or nervous?

I feel nervous every time I’m about to give a talk at a conference and most people do, it’s completely normal. The thought that most helps me is: Everyone in the audience wants you to do well. It’s easy to overthink and worry too much about “mistakes” we make during the presentation, but the mistakes often won’t even be noticed.

Local events are a great way to start because they tend to be smaller and more informal. I run UX Oxford [www.uxoxford.co.uk], a free monthly event. We’ve had many first time speakers who then went to give conference talks afterwards.

Finally any great blog posts you’d recommend on the subject?

A book that has helped me feel more confident and I really recommend is “Confessions of a public speaker” by Scott Berkun. Also, check out the workshops by Upfront https://www.weareupfront.com/

If you would like to gain more confidence in public speaking and connect with others on the same journey please get in touch and join our ever-growing Aspiring Women Speakers group — it’s just one of 14 tech communities founded and organised by tech recruitment company RecWorks under the #ByRecWorks brand. For a full list of those communities check out our page here.

Founder of RecWorks (Tech Recruitment), Tech Career Hacker, Java User Group Founder (LJC), London CTOs Organiser, Mentor Match-Maker