About PanelPicker®

2021 SXSW PanelPicker Dates

Entry Process Opens: October 6-16, 2020
Community Voting: November 10-20, 2020
"PanelPicker connects us with the thousands of creative professionals, experienced experts and informed consumers that make up the global SXSW community. This interface helps us identify the most compelling new ideas within the many different industries we serve and, in so doing, keeps SXSW exciting, timely, and relevant."
– Hugh Forrest, SXSW Chief Programming Officer

The SXSW PanelPicker is a two-step online process that gives our attendees a significant voice in conference programming (presentations, panels, workshops, etc.) for SXSW and SXSW EDU.

For the 2021 season, PanelPicker proposals will be reviewed and accepted for SXSW Online. The majority of the accepted content will be part of our user-generated programming, and available on-demand to all registrants.

Step 1: Entries: SXSW calls on the community to enter proposals for conference sessions at all SXSW events.

Step 2: Voting: The voting period allows the community to browse proposals, leave comments, and vote for sessions they think would be a good fit for the 2021 event.

Reading the PanelPicker FAQ will give you important information about SXSW and some valuable tips for creating a great proposal. Once you've read the FAQ and info below you are ready to get started!

Technical issues? Email techsupport@sxsw.com.


The SXSW PanelPicker launched in 2007 to formalize an input process that has always been a vital part of the event.

Over the years, many of the most compelling sessions at SXSW have come directly from this process.

In 2017, SXSW unified our three conferences (Music, Film, and Interactive) under one umbrella. For 2021, we will continue in this direction to help create a more cohesive conference experience for our attendees, with more programming choices throughout the event.

The Application Process

During the open application process, we encourage everyone in the SXSW community to upload proposals for solo presentations, panels, book readings, workshops, and more. This application involves an easy-to-follow form that will walk you step by step through the entry process.

How Ideas are Selected: Voting + Staff + Advisory Board

While voting from the community is important, these totals are not the only factor in deciding SXSW programing. As illustrated by the graph below, the SXSW staff and Advisory Boards also inform a significant percentage in determining the content lineup.

The input of the SXSW staff and Advisory Boards helps ensure that less well-known voices have as much of a chance as being selected to speak at SXSW as individuals with large online followings.

The Selection Process

Pie chart: 30% staff, 30% public votes, 40% advisory board

Community Voting: 30%
Who knows what you want to see at SXSW better than you? Your input is very important in terms of shaping the look and feel of the 2021 event.

SXSW Advisory Board: 40%
A group of 200+ industry experts from around the world, the SXSW Advisory Board provides significant feedback on all proposals.

SXSW Staff: 30%
With years of experience programming this event, SXSW staffers work to fill any gaps in relevant subject matter, striking a balance between new and veteran speakers.

SXSW Online and What That Means

In March 2021, The majority of Conference content will occur via SXSW Online. While we are thrilled to continue connecting our community and giving a platform to highlight important and unique ideas, the overall number of sessions we’re able to showcase will be far fewer than previous years. Given the new parameters for this year, the selection process will be much more competitive. In previous years, about 20% of received PanelPicker speaking proposals were invited to be part of the event. We expect that percentage to be lower in 2021.

Fully-proofed, narrowly-focused, forward-thinking ideas that emphasize creativity and innovation will have the best chance of successfully navigating SXSW community voting, staff analysis and Advisory Board feedback. As above, we strongly strongly encourage you to read the FAQ for helpful tips on creating a winning proposal.