Tips for PanelPicker Success

Written by Christine Auten | March 20, 2014

Photo By Marlon Jay ManuelThere is still plenty of time to get your great speaker, panel, workshop or mentor idea for V2V 2014 into the SXSW PanelPicker. Ideas entered through April 11, 2014 will then be available for the SXSW community to comment on and rate through the Public Voting period April 21 through May 9. Remember that public voting only accounts for about 30% of the overall decision-making process. The SXSW V2V staff and the Advisory Board also help shape the final programming lineup that will be announced on May 21.

Now in its 8th year, the SXSW PanelPicker has become a very powerful tool in helping SXSW to program sessions that speak the most to the community. With an event as intimate as V2V, the PanelPicker is even more important to the process. All dally sessions will take place on the 4th floor of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, in just a handful of rooms, so we will be looking very closely at session ideas in the PanelPicker to choose the best topics and approach for this unique event.

Here are five quick tips to keep in mind as you complete your PanelPicker entry:

  1. SESSION TITLE: Your title might be the most important part of your PanelPicker proposal. With hundreds of titles covering many diverse topics to review, the SXSW community, staff and Advisory Boards tend to put a lot of weight on your title. Make it easier for them to find what they are looking for with a great title that clearly illuminates the topic of your idea and speaks to the audience you are trying to reach.

  2. SESSION DESCRIPTION: The more specific a proposal is, the better. Specificity demands a lot more thought and planning, and pre-event thought and planning are the two biggest keys to a successful session. Depth is always better than breadth when approaching a session idea for SXSW. Be specific and narrow in the focus of your idea. You want to attract and intrigue the audience you are trying to reach.

  3. FIVE QUESTIONS THAT YOUR SESSION WILL ANSWER: Your questions should illuminate the specific take-aways that attendees will gain from attending your session. It is always better to go in depth on a particular aspect of a topic than to try to cover an entire subject in a short time span.

  4. RESOURCES: You are required to submit at least one visual resource for your idea. A video of your primary speaker on stage, or a video produced specifically to illuminate your PanelPicker proposal work the best for letting us know

  5. SPEAKERS: All speakers entered with your PanelPicker proposal will be considered as part of your proposal, so it is important that you think carefully about your choices. Also note that SXSW takes diversity very seriously. Sessions with three or more speakers should include at least one female, and should not include more than two speakers from the same company.

For 2014 V2V is looking for advanced-level session ideas that speak to the entrepreneurial experience across many industries. Whether the idea focuses on high tech, health, education, commerce, enterprise, and manufacturing, or music, fashion, food, and film, V2V wants your programming ideas that fall within one of the six themes described below.

  1. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGY: These sessions and speakers will discuss business models, partnerships, branding/marketing/advertising/PR/media outreach, legal issues and concerns, as well as social business strategies.

  2. CREATIVITY AND INSPIRATION: Talks in this theme will focus on creativity, artistic vision and inspiration, art for art's sake, performing arts, and new ideas.

  3. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL IMPACT: Sessions in this theme will cover topics like business for social good, and non-profits, gender and cultural challenges, workforce, hiring and managing talent, office organization and co-working, work-life balance and location.

  4. FUNDING: This theme will encompass all forms of funding, including bootstrapping, crowd funding, VC and angel, finance and accelerator programs, grants and non-profit approaches.

  5. TECH DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN: Sessions in this theme will highlight aspects of tech development and design, including crowdsourcing, hacker/maker/DIY approaches, the design process, and inspiration from other disciplines.

  6. POLICY AND REGULATION: These sessions will dig into the challenges with regulated industries, government support, policy, and reform.

Photo By Marlon Jay Manuel