Posts Tagged 'VON'

How To Do an Engaging Panel

In the last several years, I’ve participated and moderated numerous panels. Some of them were about exciting new technologies, some about business models, and some covered in-depth technological issues.

Doing a great panel, as moderator or a panelist, is always a challenge. In many cases the audience is not that interested in the topic. In others, they have heard a lot about the theme. Therefore, if you would like to do a panel that audience would remember, you should invest some time and effort in building and navigating it properly.

There are many panel’s styles, and I’d like to share with you my own “lessons learned”. Even if you don’t read all the tips — here are the basic concepts:

Think Entertainment. Many look at panels as a mean to convey information. This is absolutely true. But panels should convey information in an entertaining way.

Think conversation — not presentation — try to involve the audience in the panel, and assume that even if you have experts on board, the audience can challenge them in ways you never would have thought about. Here are some tips on how to achieve that:

1. Bring controversial panelists, with different views. Then, bash them one against the other — yes, I know it sounds harsh :). The idea is simple — if all your speakers agree with one another, no one would care. That is the safest path to make your session an email download event (when the audience read their emails instead of listen). Good panel starts with the right people on stage. Without it — it is very hard to get things going.

2. Ask the questions that everyone are thinking about but it seems that they aren’t polite to ask — last VON I was moderating a panel about video and social media . All the panelists were talking about how amazing the online video revelation is, and how it changes the way people create and consume media. No one raised the issue that with content democratization — most of online video is poorly directed and boring. But you see, many of the people in the audience thought about it. As a moderator, I’ve asked a simple question — isn’t all that Internet video just bad content? By doing so, the panel was more interesting, controversial, and answered the audience needs.

3. Slides are a big no no — panels are discussions, not a group presentations. Presentations usually stop a lively conversation, therefore they are the enemy. If your panelists insist — say no again, with a smile. If the panelist cannot protect his views without a presentation — then the problem is not the panel, but the panelists. They will hate you. But after a good panel, they will thank you, believe me.

4. Challenge the audience — ask the audience questions about themselves and their views on the topic at hand. For example, if you are in a social media panel, ask the audience who is using Twitter, Facebook etc. What worked best for me was asking questions in the beginning of the panel, and then in several points in the middle. The audience becomes a part of the conversation, and not a passive player.

5. Don’t over practice—it is important to do a preparation call before the panel, to get to know the people involved, and nail the key issues at stake. However, it is important to keep the panel fresh, so don’t review all the points thoroughly. As a moderator, always keep one question in your sleeve. Remember – it is supposed to be fun for everyone, audience included.

6. Keep PR speak out of the game — yes, companies are using panels to spread their views on the world. Like everything in life, it is not the what, but the how. So, when a panelist start to talk in PR language, what he/she really does, is destroying the conversation. If one of your panelists is doing that — wait until he/she finishes to talk — and say” we thank the PR guy from XYZ for his insightful press release”. The audience would laugh, and the panelists get the message.

What is Your panel advice?


Next Week – VON Europe, Podcamp Europe

On Sunday I am flying to Stockholm, on behalf of IMTC. I am moderating a panel at VON Expo about the effect of IMS on the enterprise communication market, and visiting the co-located Podcamp Europe.
If you are coming to these events, feel free to drop me a line at, or text me at +972544958066.

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VON07: Pulver Announce Video On The Net Coalition

Jonathan Askin, general Counsel (and Wartime Consiglieri) at, announced yesterday on the creation of the Video On The Net Alliance, a global consortium of video content creators and application providers aimed at keeping this new industry free from government regulation.

As you all know, Jeff Pulver has a long history in VoIP politics, and it seems like he is trying to achieve the same goals in the new video industry . You can find more information here.

VON07 New Video Summit – Advertisers Are In the Dark Ages, No One Knows How to Make Money from Online Video, and We Have a Window of Opportunity of 3 Years

Yesterday was the first day of VON, here in San Jose. I spent most of my time at the New Video Summit, discussing the new media world. Most panels were insightful and engaging. Panels were led by Om Malik and Rafat Ali, among others.

If we want to summarize the event in one clear statement here it is:

No one has a clue what will happen in this field.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. Content discovery is the number one problem for video creators and aggregators. Channels is one way to tackle it, and everybody are looking for technology to create them easily.

2. Advertisers are not embracing the new medium yet, though sponsorships are starting to flow, especially on (or at least their impressive COO, Dina Kaplan, was the most vocal about it). Targeted ads is what everyone is looking for, but no one knows how to do it.

3. Most panelists stated that You Tube – Viacom dispute would not change the industry, but eventually create new rules of engagement between traditional and new media companies. The general consensus was that “the future is here” and these disputes would not destroy this young industry.

4. Not surprisingly, all site owners support net neutrality. At the same time most panelists agree that Quality of Service is important for industry growth. I wonder how these two views co-exist.

5. In Rafat Ali‘s panel, two interesting assumptions were made: one is that it will take 3 years to this industry to pick up and bring economic value to its players, and it will mature in 5 years. So, my dear readers , we have a lot of work to do….

6. In the same panel, most panelists stated that Google would find a way to monetize this new medium for local advertisers, and by doing so mature the market. When I sat behind Jeff Jarvis, it seemed like he agreed with them…

More to come….

Marketing Highly Technical Non Profit Organizations

As some of you know, I am VP of Marketing and Business Development of IMTC, a non profit technology organization, focused on interoperability of video communication and content delivery technologies. Basically, our members test their video conferencing, streaming and other multimedia applications in real life scenarios, and cooperate with engineers around the globe in advancing this industry.

Marketing such an organization is a major challenge. First, its work is highly technical, making it hard to extract a marketing message and convey it to media channels. Second, budget is scarce, so regular “carpet bombing” tactics (let’s send 10,000 press releases to newswire across the globe, publish ads in newspapers, and buy booth spaces in 6 shows a year) simply cannot be implemented.

In the last six months, we’ve done several steps to tackle this challenge. As you know, we are having a panel at VON about the business perspective of standardization, where we present the business aspect of our work. But this is not enough – there are tons of business oriented panels. So, in order to make it more appealing, we invited Skype, which represent the opposite approach, to join the panel and argue that non-standard approach is better for business than ours. Nothing like a good fight to clarify a message!

Another important issue is how to create an ongoing relationship with the industry. Press releases are single sided. You send them out, shoot all over the place, and hope for the best. I think that PRs are important, especially for product companies, but one thing for sure – they do not create any relationship with readers. It’s like good old television.

I am proud to say, that after a long process, we have launched IMTC blog, with writers from the organization. The blog covers technology aspects of our work, and its affect on the market. We believe that in time, it will be a news source for unbiased information on multimedia communication and content delivery market today.

Blog solves two of the issues I’ve raised. It is cheap, and creates an ongoing relationship with our readers. There is also a good chance that it will simplify our media relations – especially with key bloggers.

However, an official IMTC blog has its own challenges. Unlike press release, there are more content contributors. This opens a whole new range of legal aspects that need to be addressed. Also, blog success is highly dependent on the rate of new posts ( I call it “the Feed-Me-Seymour” blog effect). IMTC is a voluntary organization, so finding contributors for a non technical activity is not just a walk in the park.

We’ve tackled these problems by forming an editorial team, which has two responsibilities: review all posts prior to publication for legal issues, and constantly contribute posts. editorial team volunteers are interested in creative writing, so it is fun for them, and good for the blog.

I am the Chief Editor of IMTC blog, so if any of the readers are interested in being guest bloggers, feel free to contact me.

I also want to thank Boaz Babai for supporting us in this process.

Next Week – At VON, SJ

I am heading next week to San Jose, attending Voice and Video over Net show on behalf of IMTC . I am participating in a panel on the 22nd of March with some great guys from Cisco, Radvision, Skype, Jabber and RealNetworks . I also look forward to hang out with Jeff and Chris from Pulvermedia/ If you are going to be there, feel free to drop me an email (

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