Making The Most out of Sitting on Panels

Posted on Mar 3, 2010 | 89 comments


Many of us in the technology, media and VC world sit on panels at lot.  Many of them are painfully boring.  It’s a shame since it’s such a golden opportunity for you to build awareness with your audience for who you are and what you do.  And it’s a surprisingly great way to meet people in this industry who share the stage with you. (photo from left to right: me, QD3, Brian Solis, Chamillionaire, Ian Rogers and Brian Zisk – most of whom I got to know through Twiistup panels)

I have written about the topic of sitting on panels before.  I sat on two panels in the past week – once at LeadsCon (** see appendix if you’re interested in a back story here) and today at the America’s Growth Capital conference.  So it’s fresh on my mind.  Hope I won’t be too repetitive.

Here’s my views on how to maximize your time on stage:

Give (your contribution)

1. Educate – Your primary role on stage is to educate the audience.  People have paid good money to be at the show and often times it’s to hear people like you speak.  It’s your job to know thy audience.  And thy topic.  Try to find out in advance the make of of the people who will be attending.  Things to know: mix of entrepreneurs, big tech company execs, service providers, media people, VCs, etc.  It would be good to undertand size of companies.  Make sure you really try to get inside the minds of the audience so you speak about what you believe they will think is relevant.  Obviously it should be closely aligned with what the topic of the panel is.

Tip: On panels I believe it is OK for you (even as a panelist and not moderator) to say, “I want to understand whom I’m speaking to.  Can I get a show of hands for how many people are X?  Y?”

Tip: It is always a good idea to save time on the panel for audience questions.  This is the moderator’s job but it doesn’t hurt to ask (read: remind) them before hand if there will be audience Q&A at the end.

Tip: It is always a good idea to email the other participants in advance with topics of discussion and alert the moderator if you’re worried about the direction it might take.

Tip: Get the audience to respect you for your content contributions.  Make sure they know your name, your company and what you do.  No more.  Don’t oversell or over market.  It will always be viewed in the eyes of the audience as unbearable.  The exception in my mind is if the topic of the panel warrants you talking about how your business operates as part of the learning experience.  But try to make it a functional discussion rather than a marketing pamphlet.

2.  Entertain – It is also your job to entertain!  I’m sure not everybody will agree with me on this one.  But let’s face it, on most panels a large number of people in the audience are surfing the web, doing Tweets, checking email, playing with their iPhones, etc.  It’s because they’re BORED.  You can’t show up with your monotone voice and have a deeply intellectual discussion like you might over brandy and cigars.  You’re on stage! Show energy and enthusiasm.  If you’re capable of it show some wit.  (If you’re not, don’t try. Nothing worse than bombing).  If you’re a nervous speaker bring bullet point notes.  If you’re really nervous join Toastmasters.

3. Have a dialog – I find the most enjoyable panels are ones in which the panelists engage in a dialog.  The worst are the ones where the moderator just asks questions and you go down the line answering each one until the line of people are finished speaking.  When somebody on your panel makes a point to hesitate to politely ask them a question that let’s them clarify their point a bit.  You can also politely jump in with, “that’s a great point.  We had a similar experience …” but if you do this obviously be respectful that you’re not cutting them off too early.  Let them get enough air time first.  When you do this it’s also a good idea to not have a commentary to another person’s point where you then talk for 5 minutes.  It should just be a quick comment / thought.

I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little bit of friendly controversy.  That was always the rule when I lived in the UK.  A panel without controversy was boring and a wasted opportunity.  The audience always likes this a bit.  It spices things up and makes for great entertainment.  If you’re nervous about trying this then go to your fellow panelist before hand and try saying, “hey, do you mind if I try to add a bit of friendly controversy to the panel to get the debate going?  I’ll try my best to do it respectfully.”  Obviously if they prefer not to then don’t.  And, yes, I probably take a little bit too much license with this particular advice.

Get (what you get out of it):

1. Awareness of your brand – You get so much out of being a great speaker on a panel.  I highly recommend it to all companies.  You get to earn credibility as an expert in the topic area.  People at the conference become aware of who you are.  If you say clever things the attribute positive feelings about your company even if they don’t really know what you do.  It serves as a great conversation piece to meet people the rest of the conference.  People will say, “oh, I saw you speak on that panel.  I liked what you said about X.”  It’s a free ice breaker for the rest of the conference.  It’s “earned media.”

2. Business Cards of fellow panelists – Make sure to grab everybody’s business cards.  They’re mostly wired to expect that you’re going to ask so don’t be shy – even if they’re in a league above your pay grade (the best kind of panels).  One of the most surprising things I learned over the years is the kinship you build with other individuals when you simply shared the stage for an hour.  Particularly if you were articulate and made relevant points.  It really is a great way to get to know people.  My recommendation is if possible ask for the business cards before you start speaking.  Afterwards everybody rushes the stage so it’s harder.  If you all arrive a bit late and you don’t have time to grab cards then immediately when the panel ends ask for cards before the herd arrives.

3. Follow up! – Obvious, right?  You’d be surprised how few people do this.  I’ve gotten to know so many people over the years through panels.  At LeadsCon I sat on the panel with Saar Gur, one of my favorite people to spend time with when I’m in NorCal.  Well, maybe we got a bit too friendly on this panel ;-) But I actually first met Saar on a LAVA panel in LA.  Afterwards we exchanged cards.  I called him on my next trip to Palo Alto.  From there we just started to get to know each other.  At LeadCon we grabbed 2+ hours, which I really enjoyed.  I never would have known him were it not for the LAVA panel.  Tomorrow I’m going to see Aydin Senkut.  I first met Aydin at a DealMaker Media event where, you guessed it, we sat on a panel together.  I won’t bore you with a laundry list, you get the point.

Avoid:

1. Speaking on panels with too many members – This is a waste of your time.  I have a rule about this.  No more than 5 people on the panel.  I prefer 4.  If there’s more people then you’ll end up not talking much, there will be limited back-and-forth conversation and you won’t get to know anybody.  I find these panels to be low value add for all involved.

2. Over promotion of your company – For some people it’s tempting to be an marketing automaton.  Don’t.  You’re better off with the earned media and the relationships.  Nobody remembers many of the details of what is actually said in a panel discussion anyway.  But they remember the impression they formed of you.  People generally don’t like over promoters who don’t add to the discussion.

3. Long winded intro – I really like when the moderator asks people to limit intros to 30 seconds.  Nobody is there to be “educated” about your entire career history or have a long-winded description of your company in the intro.  Keep it short, sharp, punchy and high energy.

4. Hogging minutes – The other annoying thing on panels is the “over talker” or the person who always has to answer the question first (the way that annoying kid did back when you were in elementary and high school).  Don’t be a wall flower – you should get in your minutes.  But don’t crowd out other people.  If your goal is to sit on panels with important people and build a relationship with them you won’t achieve this by not letting them speak!  (you might think you won’t do this either by being controversial – I think if you learn to do controversy with humor and tact it’s OK.  Just my view.)  Also, when it’s your turn to speak don’t speak for too long in any one question.  People prefer snappy answers to questions.

5. Being a player / manager (aka moderator with an agenda) – Moderators are moderators, not panelists.  That’s why they gave you your own special title.  You’re not a player / manager – you’re a manager.  Understand your role.  Don’t answer your own questions or ask questions that are secretly statements to show how smart you are.  Earn respect of the audience be well thought through questions.  Keep panelists on their toes by not letting them speak too long on any one topic.  Try to get a discussion going amongst panelists.  Get the audience involved.  You are the conductor.  You control the tempo.

(Photo in the banner taken by (cc) Kenneth Yeung – http://www.thelettertwo.com).

  • http://richineverysense.blogspot.com/ scheng1

    I dont even have a chance to sit on panels. I think I will jump up and down when such a great opportunity presents!

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Wow, if more panels ended up in fist fights I might have to review my conference non-attendance policy.

  • Andy

    Look at me! I'm on a panel!

    This post is a great example of why VC has jumped the shark.

    Here's some advice for entrepeneurs: sitting on panels is a fucking waste of time. There are hundreds of other, better, less time consuming ways to promote your brand.

  • cranstone

    RE: The Appendix…

    Still an Entrepreneur at heart. Long time VC's would have sat there – entrepreneurs don't, they like to challenge. I would have done exactly the same. Of course that would have been labeled disruptive by most and I doubt I would be invited back, but sometimes life's too short to sit there and do nothing. And personally you did the right thing – tried to focus on what the audience wanted vs. what the moderator/panel wanted. One approach makes things right, the other does the right thing.

  • http://www.princetonpublicspeaking.com/ matt

    Mark,

    Great post — especially your first point — it is always about your audience, not you (always a big turnoff, and happens constantly). Too many speakers, presenters and panel participants fail to remember the purpose for participating in the first place. I just put together a post about this very topic…http://www.matteventoff.com/speechcoach.html

  • http://arnoldwaldstein.com awaldstein

    Mark

    Want to second your beginning thought about the value of these panels as a marketing and discovery activity for young companies.

    Powerful, personal and inexpensive way for startups with some traction and a vision to bring attention to their products.

    One topic not written enough about is the tie between off and online and how these panels catapult attention to the online offerings of the presenters.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Make sure to create opportunities to sit on panels. It takes effort to get accepted but it's well worth it.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    LMAO!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I respectfully disagree. It's a one hour investment. It has always paid huge dividends for me. Even when I was an entrepreneur.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Can you expand on that last point?

  • daytulu

    Mark, what about follow-ups from the audience. What I don't like is most speakers (panel members) will be on the stage for couple hours and few will provide an email but most will not and run as fast as they could at the break :) If I am in the audience I would like to have a chance to follow-up if some topic was cut short due to time limitations etc. I've been on very few panels, it is extremely useful to contact others before so that you don't feel like fish out of water when you get there (for new panelists at least).

  • http://twitter.com/graemethickins GraemeThickins

    Great advice, Mark — including the advice for moderators. So needed! Please, conference organizers, save us from bad panels!! This post should be required reading for every person they propose to put on stage.

    Btw, I remember well your great on-stage performance in launching Koral at DEMOfall 2006.

  • Pingback: Making The Most out of Sitting on Panels | CloudAve()

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    You missed the most important part of a panel. The moments afterwards. Dont rush off when its done. I will stand there after a panel and talk to anyone that comes up. And, even more important, try to remember the people that you have had real dialogue with since you will see them at every conference you attend for the rest of your life. (Which is the most amazing part of being on a panel!)

  • http://richineverysense.blogspot.com/ scheng1

    I dont even have a chance to sit on panels. I think I will jump up and down when such a great opportunity presents!

  • http://twitter.com/tomhalle Tom Halle, CSAP

    So true. It's often said that this business is “same faces, new business cards” :) I love speaking on panels for many of the reasons stated above, and they all boil down to Micah's point – it's a relationship-builder with a group of people I'll be seeing again and again, and so the benefits continue to accrue over an arc of years and decades.

    I think there's one more reason to speak on panels (at least for me), not mentioned above – as professionals we all get jazzed when given an opportunity to do our best work & communicate our smartest thoughts – we live for these moments. The daily grind occasionally offers this opportunity, but speaking on panels almost always does.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Wow, if more panels ended up in fist fights I might have to review my conference non-attendance policy.

  • http://www.seekomega.com Mark Fidelman

    Glad you mentioned the boring factor. Because most are. I hate the format. When it's worked, it usually means a charismatic moderator is tactfully pushing panel members into controversial debates. Note, that doesn't mean yelling. Just respectful debate without use of the invective.

  • Andy

    Look at me! I'm on a panel!

    This post is a great example of why VC has jumped the shark.

    Here's some advice for entrepeneurs: sitting on panels is a fucking waste of time. There are hundreds of other, better, less time consuming ways to promote your brand.

  • http://www.5o9inc.com/ Peter Cranstone

    RE: The Appendix…

    Still an Entrepreneur at heart. Long time VC's would have sat there – entrepreneurs don't, they like to challenge. I would have done exactly the same. Of course that would have been labeled disruptive by most and I doubt I would be invited back, but sometimes life's too short to sit there and do nothing. And personally you did the right thing – tried to focus on what the audience wanted vs. what the moderator/panel wanted. One approach makes things right, the other does the right thing.

  • http://www.princetonpublicspeaking.com/ matt

    Mark,

    Great post — especially your first point — it is always about your audience, not you (always a big turnoff, and happens constantly). Too many speakers, presenters and panel participants fail to remember the purpose for participating in the first place. I just put together a post about this very topic…http://www.matteventoff.com/speechcoach.html

  • http://arnoldwaldstein.com awaldstein

    Mark

    Want to second your beginning thought about the value of these panels as a marketing and discovery activity for young companies.

    Powerful, personal and inexpensive way for startups with some traction and a vision to bring attention to their products.

    One topic not written enough about is the tie between off and online and how these panels catapult attention to the online offerings of the presenters.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Make sure to create opportunities to sit on panels. It takes effort to get accepted but it's well worth it.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    LMAO!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I respectfully disagree. It's a one hour investment. It has always paid huge dividends for me. Even when I was an entrepreneur.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Can you expand on that last point?

  • http://arnoldwaldstein.com awaldstein

    OK…I'll try.

    I find that offline events often drive huge spikes in online adoption.

    Take Facebook for example….great community but very hard to expand your networks on it beyond your friends or friends of friends. A client of mine is building apps for Fan Pages for brands to communicate with their fans/customers. The best tool for adoption of the apps was Meet Ups. If was very easy to get attendance at Meet Ups around 'Marketing to your Fans on Facebook” that attracted both scores of small business and the digital agencies as well looking for clients.

    Online app and business model; offline discovery process to catapult adoption. At least at an early stage.

    Gathering that attention online from scratch would have been ineffective through advertising.

    This happens to a similar degree when speaking on panels or keynoting small vertical conferences.

    My 2 cents on a connection.

    Online is just an extension of our offline communities. People are hungry for answers and often it is easier to gather them in groups, then let these groups spread out to their communities online,

  • daytulu

    Mark, what about follow-ups from the audience. What I don't like is most speakers (panel members) will be on the stage for couple hours and few will provide an email but most will not and run as fast as they could at the break :) If I am in the audience I would like to have a chance to follow-up if some topic was cut short due to time limitations etc. I've been on very few panels, it is extremely useful to contact others before so that you don't feel like fish out of water when you get there (for new panelists at least).

  • http://twitter.com/graemethickins GraemeThickins

    Great advice, Mark — including the advice for moderators. So needed! Please, conference organizers, save us from bad panels!! This post should be required reading for every person they propose to put on stage.

    Btw, I remember well your great on-stage performance in launching Koral at DEMOfall 2006.

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    You missed the most important part of a panel. The moments afterwards. Dont rush off when its done. I will stand there after a panel and talk to anyone that comes up. And, even more important, try to remember the people that you have had real dialogue with since you will see them at every conference you attend for the rest of your life. (Which is the most amazing part of being on a panel!)

  • http://twitter.com/tomhalle Tom Halle, CSAP

    So true. It's often said that this business is “same faces, new business cards” :) I love speaking on panels for many of the reasons stated above, and they all boil down to Micah's point – it's a relationship-builder with a group of people I'll be seeing again and again, and so the benefits continue to accrue over an arc of years and decades.

    I think there's one more reason to speak on panels (at least for me), not mentioned above – as professionals we all get jazzed when given an opportunity to do our best work & communicate our smartest thoughts – we live for these moments. The daily grind occasionally offers this opportunity, but speaking on panels almost always does.

  • http://www.seekomega.com Mark Fidelman

    Glad you mentioned the boring factor. Because most are. I hate the format. When it's worked, it usually means a charismatic moderator is tactfully pushing panel members into controversial debates. Note, that doesn't mean yelling. Just respectful debate without use of the invective.

  • tochirag

    Mark, I have effectively used Twitter during the panels. Whenever I have been on panels I introduce myself and write a hashtag and my twitter id on a cue card and keep it in front of me so that everyone can see it. Moderator should typically take care of this but I am on your side and I do things when a moderator does not. I use my phone/laptop to monitor the tweets during the panel discussion to assess the engagement and the questions that the audience may have. If I get direct questions (to my Twitter id) I make sure to cover those topics. Advantages of this method:

    1) People can ask questions without interrupting ongoing panel discussion
    2) Engaging conversation amongst people in the audience
    3) Ability to take questions and read tweets from the people who are following the panel remotely
    4) Get back to people after the panel is over with the answers and comments and follow up (to your point)
    5) Most importantly, ability to persist the dialog that can be searched later

  • http://www.homethinking.com nikiscevak

    You nailed it with the points above but being a member of the Leadscon audience (and admirer of this blog) I have to say my opinion of you went down (but not so much). Jordan Rohan came off as a catty, passive-agressive guy who had his feelings hurt while you came off to me a little ADD “Look over there, let's talk about what I want!” Either way, when you had to hug Saar to speak that relieved all the tension but it was a little Alice in Wonderland there for a while.

    To be sure you had two completely different factions of the world on stage and just because they are both from 'finance' got lumped into one panel. But at the same time the EBITDA stuff is useful to startups and small businesses because it shows probably what the top end of valuations those particular firms were willing to pay for smaller versions of themselves. I can also say that Quinstreet's IPO was the genesis of the conference and the most talked about topic. So there were more likely more people interested in EBITDA multiples than hearing about venture capital (I may be wrong).

    Keep up the great work blogging :)

  • http://arnoldwaldstein.com awaldstein

    OK…I'll try.

    I find that offline events often drive significant spikes in online adoption.

    Or moreso, the combination of offline and online together are greater than the sum of the parts.

    Take Facebook for example….great community but very hard to expand your networks on it beyond your friends or friends of friends. A client of mine is building apps for Fan Pages for brands to communicate with their fans/customers. The best tool for adoption of the apps was Meet Ups. It was fairly straightforward to get attendance at Meet Ups around general brand marketing of Facebook topics that attracted good numbers of small businesses and digital agencies looking for clients. The results for the client were very positive in online adoption.

    And Meet Ups are a hybrid offline and online venue, gathering crowds online, funneling them into a social meeting offline, then aggregating them online again to keep the community dynamic ongoing.

    Gathering the crowds online alone would have been insufficient. Driving them to face to face demos worked and resulted in a larger online community that was fed by these events.

    I think speaking on panels or keynoting is somewhat similar. The initial drive is online to advertise the event and drive interest. This is both by the event and by individual's networks. The result, post the event, resides online.

    This is not magic nor a secret sauce but socialization is always the key. And as powerful as our social tools are online, there is still nothing more powerful than face to face if you can find the proper balance and fortunate to find a way for the two to feed into one another.

  • http://uniquevisitor.net Jeff Pester

    Totally disagree Andy. Yes, some conferences and/or panels suck badly. But I think if you choose the opportunities wisely (both conference and panel) they're invaluable on several levels. If (like Mark and I) you socialize easily, it can be a gold mine of experiences and new relationships. It's largely what you make of it.

  • http://cloudcomputing.blogspot.com/ Chirag Mehta

    Mark, I have effectively used Twitter during the panels. Whenever I have been on panels I introduce myself and write a hashtag and my twitter id on a cue card and keep it in front of me so that everyone can see it. Moderator should typically take care of this but I am on your side and I do things when a moderator does not. I use my phone/laptop to monitor the tweets during the panel discussion to assess the engagement and the questions that the audience may have. If I get direct questions (to my Twitter id) I make sure to cover those topics. Advantages of this method:

    1) People can ask questions without interrupting ongoing panel discussion
    2) Engaging conversation amongst people in the audience
    3) Ability to take questions and read tweets from the people who are following the panel remotely
    4) Get back to people after the panel is over with the answers and comments and follow up (to your point)
    5) Most importantly, ability to persist the dialog that can be searched later

  • http://www.homethinking.com nikiscevak

    You nailed it with the points above but being a member of the Leadscon audience (and admirer of this blog) I have to say my opinion of you went down (but not so much). Jordan Rohan came off as a catty, passive-agressive guy who had his feelings hurt while you came off to me a little ADD “Look over there, let's talk about what I want!” Either way, when you had to hug Saar to speak that relieved all the tension but it was a little Alice in Wonderland there for a while.

    To be sure you had two completely different factions of the world on stage and just because they are both from 'finance' got lumped into one panel. But at the same time the EBITDA stuff is useful to startups and small businesses because it shows probably what the top end of valuations those particular firms were willing to pay for smaller versions of themselves. I can also say that Quinstreet's IPO was the genesis of the conference and the most talked about topic. So there were more likely more people interested in EBITDA multiples than hearing about venture capital (I may be wrong).

    Keep up the great work blogging :)

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Great points. Thanks for adding. I agree with the online / offline synergy.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I usually stay afterward and “shake every hand and kiss every baby.” I think it comes with the territory of public speaking. That said, I know most panelists don't like to do this. Of the people who approach you after a speaking engagement off the stage usually 10-20% are value add and the rest are trying to sell you something. Still, I almost always stay until I've met the last ones standing in line.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    And I remember well your online picture from then! You wrote about it afterward and a memorable photo! Thanks for the comments – I appreciate the input.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    100%. Answered the question above also. I agree with that input. I always stay until the last person has left. And re: panels – I should say that I always liked you so much because I saw you speak on a panel and loved the way you spoke about things.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    For sure. I get a rush out of it.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agreed. I'm willing to disagree with points but never yell.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Chirag. It's an interesting idea. I love the idea of the moderator doing this. My only concern for panelists would be: 1) it looks to the audience like you're not paying attention and 2) there is some amount of attention that goes into checking the computer. During this time you're not showing respect for the other panelists speaking. I think this is a wonderful idea and I'm going to suggest it for my next panel. But I think I'll have the moderator managet it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    OK, fair points. Thank you for the feedback. BTW, from my questions to the audience it seemed like they were interested in neither!

  • http://uniquevisitor.net Jeff Pester

    Totally disagree Andy. Yes, some conferences and/or panels suck badly. But I think if you choose the opportunities wisely (both conference and panel) they're invaluable on several levels. If (like Mark and I) you socialize easily, it can be a gold mine of experiences and new relationships. It's largely what you make of it.

  • http://avc.com fredwilson

    hi mark, great post

    i followed your lead and wrote some additional thoughts about panels on the AVC blog this morning'

    http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/03/panels.html

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/tereza Tereza

    Hi Mark

    Great post. I didn't have time to comment yesterday as I wished so here is what I just posted on Fred's:

    For an up-and-comer, any exposure is good exposure. So at this stage I can't really imagine saying no to a panel. (OK OK, maybe not the Mt. Kisco Rotary Club)

    But really, I'm not sure what the objective is of panels. If it's a quick smorgasbord for exposure to a new area or characters, it may be passably effective. If you want new and insightful info, not the place.

    Events which offer panel after panel over the course of a day or two, tend to (d)evolve toward an asympototic averageness. By the third one, everyone is saying the same thing and I'm sneaking out for another cup o' joe and to check voicemail. They're not set up to provoke or intrigue, but to lob out sweepingly acceptable statements.

    But what I really hate is events that charge ridiculous sums of money, that peons like me are supposed to shell that out? Extortion. And then we have to watch panels where we don't get any juice from any of the speakers? Yeah, right.

    Jason Calacanis has opined on paying to pitch. I extend that to this. There are plenty of good free events. A short while back I went on a moratorium on paid events. The effectiveness of my networking accelerated as a result.

    A neat trick is to pull down the list of speakers off the web, consider whether any of them are important to me, and figuring out whether I can tunnel in through a personal connection. Or start hanging out in their DISQUS comments.

    On the topic of networking, I wrote a post about it last night — the gal's perspective. Take a look if you're interested. http://terezan.tumblr.com/

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Lovell/739651170 Nicholas Lovell

    Maybe it's because I'm British, but I seek out controversy. As a moderator, I try to find 4 panellists with two opposing views (3 on 1 seems a little unfair, though). I'm in games, so a boxed product games guy against a Facebook games guy, or similar.

    As a panellist, I look for provocative (but not offensive) statements that stimulate debate, both within the panel and within the audience. It's the same skill as being a blogger – use your limited time to provoke discussion. The value is in the dialogue, not the prepared patter.