I recently had the opportunity to be a panelist in an industry conference. I have attended panels before and I have given many talks at conferences, but participating in a panel was a new thing, until October this year when the organizers of Casual Connect asked me to join a panel about data and analytics.
Here are 6 things I learned while preparing, participating and reviewing the video in retrospect.
#1 – Know the Questions in Advance
Very few people can wing their first panel appearance. Imagine getting the question only during the session while the audience is waiting for your response and the spotlights pointed on you. This is a lot of unnecessary pressure. Most likely the panel moderator will be happy to share the questions in advance and even iterate on them with you if you have feedback.
#2 – Disagree at least once
Panels can get really boring if everyone agrees on everything and says the same things. You can see Daniel disagreeing with me and Garrett on minute 7:30 and then in the last 10 minutes Ilja and myself arguing against re-engagement in gaming while Daniel takes the other side.
#3 – Prepare Examples that are Easy to Visualize
A lot of times expert discussions can become too complicated for an audience to follow. Having an example that is easy for the audience to visualize helps you keep the audience engaged and is much more memorable. In minute 20:48 I’m leveraging the fact that most of the audience has already seen the image of an Asian person sitting in front of hundreds of mobile devices and installing apps on them to make an example of how SOOMLA can detect fraud better than anyone else.
#4 – Use Sound Bytes
Get a few sentences prepared that people can immediately agree with and easily memorize. For SOOMLA the best ones would have been:
- It’s smarter to look at data from hundreds of games than to look at data from only a single game.
- If 50% of the revenue is driven by whales, you should spend half your time analyzing that audience specifically.
I actually failed to deliver these sound bytes during the session although at minute 10:40 I had a pretty good opportunity to deliver the first one.
#5 – Use Acronyms to Encapsulate Systems or Processes
Audiences really like it when you give them an easy way to remember a new system, process or method. Using an acronym and explaining what the letters stand for, will get people writing your words down. An example that is relevant to SOOMLA would be: “The segments that game publishers should focus on: S – social whales that can bring you viral distribution, W – whales – these are the people who pay in your game, F – freeloaders which should be monetized with ads. The acronym to remember is SWF.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the opportunity to use this acronym in the discussion. I promise to do better on my next panel.
#6 – You Don’t Have to Answer the Question You were Asked
Sometimes it’s better to answer the question you wanted to be asked. At the end of the day most people would not remember the question anyway. Especially if your answer was good. At minute 2:45, I was asked “tell us something not many people know about your company.” I replied with a shameless pitch – given that we are a startup it’s likely to assume that not many people have heard about what we do so it was sort of answering the question, but not really what the moderator expected.
The success of a panel is not easy to measure, but one way to gauge it is by how many people queued up for questions after. In this case, I can say that I did pretty well based on that queue, but I still know there are quite a few things I’ll do better in my next panel.