All speaker proposals for SXSW 2020 are due by end of day on Sunday, July 21

SXSW PanelPicker Last-Minute Tips

The Forrest Four-Cast: July 17, 2019

Hugh Forrest
2 min readJul 17, 2019


If you want to showcase your creativity by speaking at SXSW 2020, then remember that the PanelPicker entry portal closes at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on Sunday, July 21.

A few last-minute tips as you finalize your application for a solo presentation or a panel at next year’s event:

  1. Review the list of tracks for SXSW 2020 so you will have a better idea of what kind of topics are being sought for next year’s March Magic.
  2. Read the PanelPicker FAQs before you start.
  3. Download the PDF of the PanelPicker application which will give you a better roadmap of what this entry process entails.
  4. Don’t go wide with the focus of your proposal, when you can go deep instead. The SXSW audience always always always wants depth, detailed focus and specificity, which is why we often prefer solo presentations (as opposed to panels).
  5. The title of your proposal should mirror the description of your proposal. In 50 characters or less, the title of your entry should succinctly summarize what this idea covers. Proposals that have vague and misleading titles don’t often make it through the very competitive selection process.
  6. The video that accompanies your proposal also carries a lot of importance. If you are creating a new video for your idea, then aim for something in the 1–2 minute range. Like your title, this video should succinctly summarize your proposal and give a quick run-down of speakers and qualifications.
  7. Diversity matters. All make speaker lineups are not acceptable for the three-person or four-person panel proposals.
  8. DON’T WRITE YOUR PROPOSAL IN ALL CAPS. Shouting won’t create more traction for your idea. Please don’t write your proposal in all lower-case characters either.
  9. Proof and re-proof your entry. Eliminate mis-spellings, grammatical errors and typos by proofreading your proposal many many times before you hit the “submit” button.
  10. The submit button is final! Once you hit the “submit” button of the PanelPicker entry form, you can NOT make edits / changes to your idea. So, all the more reason to repeat the proofing process multiple times.

Good luck with finalizing your speaking proposal!

Finally note that the public voting and commenting process on all PanelPicker entries runs from August 5 to August 23.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.



Hugh Forrest

Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.