Mike Manual has some great quotes from Guy Kawasaki on being a panelist.
1. Control your introduction. Bring a copy of your bio and hand it to the moderator to introduce you. Don’t depend on what the moderator came up with. And, like in speeches, cut the sales pitch about your organization. To make your organization look good, be an informative panelist not a loudmouth braggart. ...
Technoflak would add cut the company background down to the name of your company and a one sentence description of your business. The audience came to hear about the subject at hand, not your company.
3. Tell the truth—especially when the truth is obvious. Most people expect panelists to lie when they encounter a tough question, so if you don’t lie, you establish credibility for your other answers. ...
Give your audience credit for being both intelligent and fair. They know that you and your company have feet of clay. Admitting this enhances credibility rather than otherwise. Keep in mind the large number of eastern European refugees in our industry. Anything along the lines of “we have exceeded our quota by %500” will seem comically discreditable.
7. Make casual conversation. You’re on stage, but act like you’re not. Simply make conversation with the moderator and other panelists. Don’t pontificate and don’t “make a speech.” Interact with the everyone (even the audience) in a casual way. ...
Technoflak knows from experience that this is easier to do if you look directly at the audience and make eye contact with individuals within the audience.
10. Provide a way to get in touch with you. Most panelists think this is masochistic: Why would I want to provide my contact info to an audience of hundreds of people? The answer is twofold: first, don’t flatter yourself—very few people will actually make contact with you; second, a small number of those who do will be valuable.
You would hardly think this advice necessary, but apparently it is. How can your audience do business with you if they do not know how to get in contact with you? Technoflak saw Kawasaki speak and can attest he practices what he preaches.
Technoflak would advise to have someone specific in mind when you prepare, it could be a prospective customer, a current customer, or anyone specific in your industry. It is easier to write copy or prepare a presentation if you have someone specific in mind. Try to think of what you could say that would put money in that person’s pocket, it might be a way to use technology more securely or more efficiently. It might be a way they could choose a better system, or how to migrate to a better system with as little grief as possible. But you should concentrate on giving your audience something of specific value, that way they will think of your company first when they are looking to solve a problem, or recommend you to a friend.