Create the Perfect PanelPicker Proposal With These 10 Tips

Asian-American Women Leading in EdTech - SXSW EDU 2022 - photo by Kyle Kenehan

SXSW EDU is now accepting session proposal applications for the 2023 Conference & Festival until Sunday, July 24. Don't know where to begin? Start your application in PanelPicker®, the crowd-sourced digital platform that empowers our community to propose ideas for a variety of SXSW EDU session formats. We’ve created a list of 10 need-to-knows to help guide and give you the best chance to reach the stage.

To enter a session proposal, visit the online form during our application window. PanelPicker will then re-open for community voting, allowing the public to review, vote on, and provide feedback on all ideas entered.

1. Narrow in and Focus on a Topic

Select a focus for your session proposal and dive deeply into that topic. Broad and unfocused proposals are less likely to be selected for the event.

2. Crafting a Title That Hooks Your Reader

The title is your first opportunity to capture your readers’ attention and spark their interest in the session idea. Make sure your proposal is easily accessible to the community and speaks to the audience you are trying to reach. Try to keep your title as concise and explanatory as possible (maximum of 50 characters, including spaces).

3. Select the Right Session Format

Choose the format that best fits your session structure and presentation style. Reflect on the goals of your session idea – are you looking to engage in a thought-provoking discussion, lead a learning activity, or convene a specific community?

  • Meet Up: 1-2 Speakers, 60 Min
  • Performance: 1-4 Speakers, 1.5 Hours
  • Podcast: 2-4 Speakers, 60 Min
  • Solo: 1 Speaker, 30 Min
  • Talk: 2-4 Speakers, 30 Min
  • Workshop: 1-3 Speakers, 1.5 Hours

4. Keep it Simple

Cut out the overused buzzwords and be intentional with your language. Packing a session proposal with meaningless buzzwords will only undermine your focus and rile readers. Instead, keep things simple and focus on substantive ideas that clearly communicate your objectives.

5. Diversify Your Speakers

SXSW EDU values diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation. The most exciting sessions offer many different viewpoints on the subject matter. For each proposed speaker, you will be asked to address how they contribute to the diversity of the session. All sessions with three or more speakers should include:

  • Diversity in gender
  • Diversity in ethnicity
  • Diversity in location and employment of speakers
  • Diversity in thought and opinion

6. Highlight Audience Takeaways

In addition to comprehensively defining the focus of your session idea, you will be asked to provide three specific learning objectives that highlight concrete audience takeaways. This is important because the primary reason most people attend SXSW EDU is to learn.

7. Include a Video

Add a short creative video to serve as the digital face of your proposal. There’s no need for high-value production; we just want to hear you speak and see your passion for the topic. Record yourself on your phone/computer pitching your idea.

8. Avoid Being Advertorial

Advertorial or brand-centered session proposals and descriptions are not allowed. If you are interested in promoting your brand at SXSW EDU, check out our marketing deck and contact our team to talk more.

9. Be Creative, it Matters!

Approach the PanelPicker process with a creative mindset. Each summer SXSW EDU receives hundreds of high-quality proposals from education thought leaders across the U.S. and around the world, making the selection process extremely competitive. Creative ideas that provide insight on current best practices or an innovative look towards the future are more likely to be selected.

10. Double Check Before You Submit

There’s no understating the importance of proofreading your proposal before hitting submit. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Do not write your title or description in all lowercase letters. Double-check that the proposal is error-free. Once you’ve submitted your session proposal in PanelPicker, you will not be able to make any additional edits to your proposal.

Visit and select “+ Sign in to Create a SXSW EDU Proposal” to get started today!

Download the PanelPicker Guide, a printable PDF, for more tips on submitting in PanelPicker.

See You In 2023

Mark your calendars for March 6-9, 2023 and stay connected with your community!

Sign up for SXSW EDU email updates for important dates, announcements, opportunities, and more. Be sure to check out the News feed, watch videos, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Photo provided by Kyle Kenehan

By Jayden Liberty