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2013 SXSW PanelPicker is Now Open and 6 Tips for Success

Health has really taken off at SXSW. We had a great initial year in 2011 and even more panels in 2012. Now it is time to think about 2013. Of course don’t think long the PanelPicker closes on Friday, July 20th (They are serious on this!) 

SXSW Interactive over the past few years has really grown and the health category is no exception. SXSW as a conference is going to focus more on quality and uniqueness this year versus matching the number of offerings from last year. What does this mean? With over 3200 entries last year and probably more this year the odd are even greater to get chosen!

So with all that said here are 6 Tips strait from Hugh Forrest and the fine folks over at SXSW that will help you have a greater chance to present in March:

  1. READ THE FAQ: Before you start the PanelPicker entry process, please take a few minutes to read the FAQ.
  2. SOLO IS GOOD: SXSW is aiming to do more solo sessions in 2013. This is NOT to say that we won’t do any panels. But, figure that if two proposals are exactly equal in terms of voting and Advisory Board scoring (etc), we will much more likely accept the solo idea for the event.
  3. DEPTH IS BETTER THAN WIDTH: Too often, proposals are far far too broad in approach. For instance, something like “How Social Media Can Help Your Business.” That’s not a panel — that is an entire conference! Much more chance of success to really drill down into a very specific aspect of the topic: “Effective Facebook Advertising on $15 a Day”
  4. FOCUSED TITLE: Cute titles are fun. But, the best titles are ones that in a few words are very very reflective of the content at hand. Too often, people give very vague titles when sending in PanelPicker ideas — something like “The Mobile Future.” Again, specificity is much much much better: “Increasing Profits with PayPal Mobile.” Also . . .to put these two points together . . in-depth focus plus short / reflective title tends to make for a winning proposal. Or, said the other way around, a proposal with a vague focus and a vague title is very unlikely to be accepted for March.
  5. ORIGINAL: Yes, SXSW is a tech-related conference. But, the bottom line is creativity. So, the more massively creative people can be in their panel ideas, the better. For instance, compare running a small business to hunting great white sharks in Australia (ha — the comparison doesn’t make sense, but I hope that gives you the picture).
  6. SXSW MUSIC AND SXSW FILM. The PanelPicker interface is also used for the SXSW Music Conference and the SXSW Film Conference. I think a lot of the expertise / wisdom of the small business community can also be applied to these two events. So, please encourage your folks to also send in PanelPicker ideas to SXSW Music and SXSW Film. Why is this important? The Music (500 entries in 2012) and Film (200 entries in 2012) interfaces receive *substantially* fewer entries than does the SXSW Interactive (3200 entries in 2012) interface. So, it is significantly easier to get a good idea accepted for SXSW Music and SXSW Film.

As an advisory board member I can’t wait to see all the cool entries that flow in. If you think you have a cool and unique idea to submit here are a few resources to get your name in the hat:

A few points on the process from SXSW:

  • CATEGORIES – For 2013, SXSW has significantly altered the PanelPicker categories. We think these changes better emphasize the heart of SXSW: creativity. Click here to see the list of categories for 2013
    • For Health the Category is “Health and Medicine – Medical Systems and Technology Development, Online Health Services, Self-Hacking, Self-Monitoring.”
  • TIME-FRAME – Yes, SXSW knows that in summer 2012 it is hard to anticipate the top technology trends for spring 2013. But the most successful presentations at SXSW have always focused on the process that leads to innovation and inspiration (not the product that is the end result).
  • VIDEO – For 2013, SXSW is requiring that all speaking proposals include a video link. This will give PanelPicker voters (plus Advisory Board and Staff) a better idea of the applicant’s skills as a public speaker.

Question: So… are you planning to submit a talk?

Author Info

Reed Smith