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Speaking at BDF: A Guide

Speaking at Birmingham Design Festival is a memorable experience. Here you can find out about our selection process and what to expect when you arrive at the festival.

How we choose our speakers & workshop hosts

A significant portion of our speakers/hosts come from personal invites, from a list we’ve curated as a team over a period of months, based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The speaker’s fit within the annual theme
  • Community recommendations
  • A significant piece or body of work
  • Our personal design heroes / people we’d love to see

In addition to our own selections, we take submissions via a ‘call for entries’ held between January and March. Unless your submission has a significant time restriction (e.g. we need to plan several months in advance) this is the best time to submit your idea/request to speak – as the data is collected together and there’s no chance of it being lost in a busy email inbox.

We typically build up our speaker list over the course of several months, with announcements coming in March and April ahead of the full programme release in May.

What happens if I’ve been invited to speak at BDF?

Once invited we require a profile picture and bio to list in our speaker section for the forthcoming festival, followed by an outline of the talk for inclusion in the festival programme and What’s On guide.

When June rolls around speakers from across the globe descend on Birmingham throughout the festival week and we love to take good care of you. We cover your travel fees, and if you’re heading to Birmingham from further afield (1hr+ from Brum) you’ll get a free nights stay from our brilliant partner Bloc Hotels. You’ll get a festival pass allowing you to take in as much of the festival as possible, and we usually have free food offers too. Last but not least you’ll also get a top notch goody bag (if we do say so ourselves).

Delivering your event

Your event will typically happen in one of the District hubs. We split the festival into 4 key locations across the city (you can find our more in our Plan Your Visit section), the actual venue will be advised closer to the festival itself.

We send out a full itinerary to every speaker as we approach the festival, with travel directions, hotel details, event times and other points of interest.

You’ll need to arrive at the venue at 30 minutes before your talks start time, so we can test any relevant technology and make sure you’re comfortable in the space. We have our own laptops, so if you’re giving a keynote we can load it in there (please check with us first if you’re hoping to use your own laptop). Event times vary, but a talk is typically 25-30 minutes + short Q&A we help facilitate. There will always be volunteers on hand to help with setup and delivery of an event, and your host will look after you & introduce you.

After your event is finished you’re done and free to enjoy the rest of the festival.

Our Hotel Partner

Bloc Hotels

If you’re staying the night with us you’ll do so in style in one of Bloc’s modern rooms, located in the heart of the historic Jewellery Quarter.

Find out more about Bloc

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