How To

October 27, 2023

How to provide value on a panel

Do your homework, come with facts, and don't fight with other panellists for air time, says Birdie CEO Max Parmentier

Max Parmentier is the cofounder and CEO of elderly care platform Birdie. 

At the Sifted Summit on October 5, Max was on stage discussing how AI has emerged as a powerful tool for healthtech transformation — revolutionising ways to detect, diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. He also discussed how AI is changing the healthcare landscape, as well as the ethical and regulatory considerations.

In our Startup Life newsletter, Max shared his top tips with us on how to provide value as a panellist at a tech conference.

Know why you’re participating in a panel

When you know why you’re there, you’ll know what it is you need to say. There are four main reasons I take part in panels:

  • To raise the profile of a company. This then helps when you speak to potential investors.
  • To find potential partners and collaborators. For example, you may want to meet founders building adjacent solutions.
  • To meet with and influence policymakers. Being on stage makes you credible and you’ll be shaping public opinion on a topic.
  • To attract talent.

Choose panels carefully:

  • Select conferences where you rate the organisers.
  • Assess the topic of the panel. Is the topic narrow enough to encourage a deep chat about it?
  • Do you have an angle? Accept invites to speak where you have an opinion, data and insight that will add value to the conversation.
  • Leave room for flexibility. It may not always be the perfect subject matter but, sometimes, it’s worth being on a panel just to be in the room.

Come with facts

The audience want to hear your unique perspective on a topic — that’s why you’ve been asked to sit on a panel — but you also want to be able to back up what you say with solid facts. Go prepared with data, figures, new research, new insights from leading experts in your field — things that people may not necessarily know or have access to.

Stay positive

As entrepreneurs, keeping a positive perspective on the arguments you bring forward is important to get people onside and to believe in you, your company and the vision you have for the world. Part of your job is to be inspiring. So, be optimistic about what’s feasiblewhilst being honest about the hurdles and obstacles ahead.

Don’t fight for air time

Lean on the expertise of moderators. They will know how to create balance — both in terms of time people take up and perspectives — to create a fluid conversation. That doesn’t mean you have to always wait for the moderator — bounce off of other panellists’ ideas and reply to them directly to create more natural interactions.

On the subject of... providing value as a panellist

Don’t just show up and answer questions. Here are 11 top tips to make you a better panellist. 

Avoid the jargon. Speak with plain, simple and easy to understand language.

🗣️ How not to run a panel — follow these six rules.

Anisah Osman Britton

Anisah Osman Britton is coauthor of Startup Life , a weekly newsletter on what it takes to build a startup. Follow her on X and LinkedIn