Mark Suster, who writes the best VC blog out there right now, has a post about sitting on panels. He gives the following advice:

  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Discuss and Debate (have a dialog)
  • Build Awareness of your firm/company/brand
  • Make connections with your other panelists and follow-up with them
  • Avoid panels that are too big
  • Don't over promote
  • Don't give a long winded intro
  • Don't hog the microphone
  • Don't try to moderate the panel

Excellent advice Mark. I agree with all of it. Read Mark's post for the details.

All that said, I really hate panels. I hate watching them and I hate being on them even more. I think it's a lazy way to participate in a conference. You show up, answer a few questions, sit up on the stage with a bunch of other people, and then go home.

I much prefer the 15-20 minute talk with Q&A afterward. I think I'd prefer even more a 10 minute talk with longer Q&A afterward.

Panels rarely turn into interesting discussions. If you want an interesting discussion, have someone good do an on-stage interview. I've done on stage interviews with people like John Battelle, John Heilemann, and Alan Murray and they are fantastic discussions. I'd like to do more of them.

I'm on record that I don't like big time conferences. Now I'm on record that I don't like panels.

But I do like small conferences focused on a particular group or sector. And I do like to see a short presentation or a well done interview and I also like to deliver them as well. I'd love to see more of all of those things.

#VC & Technology