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What is a Think Slam?

It is a competition to present ideas on stage in three minutes.


What is the history of the Think Slam?

In 2009, the then Chair of the Swindon Philosophical Society, Chris Eddy, and the Director of the Swindon Festival of Literature, Matt Holland, were talking, in reflective mood, about that year’s Swindon Poetry Slam. Chris said, ‘How about a Slam for ideas, thoughts, even matters philosophical. A Philosophy Slam?’ Matt said, ‘You mean a Think Slam?’ They both said, ‘Let’s do it!’ - Good talk followed and Think Slam criteria were discussed. In due course the first Think Slam took place on Friday 18th May at the seventeenth Swindon Festival of Literature.


What happens at the Think Slam?

Eight competitors have 3 minutes each to present a thought-provoking idea, theory, or story. From then on, it’s a knockout! Just as in all good sporting competitions, there is a quarter final, semi final, and final! Though there may well be moments of seriousness, nervousness, and puzzlement, a spirit of wonder, wit, and good humour usually prevails! The winner is crowned Think Slam Champ and receives the bubbly-filled SWINDON THINK SLAM trophy, rapturous audience applause, and congratulations from our guest authors.


How is the Think Slam! judged?

Six keen but kindly judges are chosen from among the keen and kindly audience but usually also include one or two judge-supremos, who are guest authors or speakers at the Festival.


What do they judge at the Think Slam?

ORIGINALITY: how new, refreshing, and thought-provoking is the perspective offered? CLARITY: how clearly are the ideas expressed? PROFUNDITY: how deep is the thinking? TONE: how appropriate to the topic, whether serious or humorous, is the use of words and phrasing? QUESTIONS: what questions are raised? ANSWERS: what answers are given? EFFECT: what are listeners left knowing, feeling, or thinking?

But also, because the judges are human, they take into account other unspecified things that participants say or do. In other words, they may judge the presentation as a whole.


How does one enter the Think Slam?

Anyone brave and thoughtful enough, by their own standards, can apply to enter. But please note, total number of competitors is limited to 8, so there may be a selection procedure. If you wish to enter the next Swindon THINK SLAM please contact the Festival on 01793 771080 or at

Will there be other Think Slams?

Yes, we hope so, and are planning to spread the Think Slam word via our site at – Watch this space!

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