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Speaker Guidelines & Preparation for TechForum's Security Forum  


TechForum's Security Forum: Trends in Enterprise Security panelists participate in a 50 minute moderated panel discussion. Generally panels are composed of 3-6 people who are a mix of end users and vendor sponsors.  

Here is what is involved with being a panel: 


  • You know the questions in advance—we work from a discussion guide that is distributed a week before the event for comment. There are no surprises. 

  • We allow no recordings at the event.

  • We are closed to the press and all forms of media.

  • We do not ask you to discuss specific vendors or products, unless it is your choice to do so.

  • The prep time for you is a 30-45 minute phone interview with our founder and panel moderator Priscilla Tate. We decide in that conversation what role you will play on the panel, and what issues you feel comfortable discussing. You are never asked to comment on something you don't want to comment on. 


Below is a corporate backgrounder that describes the event, who attends and the panels themselves. 


TechForum Corporate Backgrounder

Technology Managers Forum (TechForum) is based in New York and founded in 1994. Our website is


Our mission is to provide peer-group dialogue around management technology for mid- to-large sized enterprises with $50 million in revenue or more.  We have over 1000 members in the New York area, and we hold all our events in Manhattan. Most of our members work for the Fortune 1000.  Members of TechForum are C-level and senior end-user IT managers who work in non-vendor roles. TechForum Security Forums attract about 160 invitation-only IT managers and have about 20 sponsors.

About Security Forum:

TechForum’s Security Forum is a one-day executive conference for 160-180 vetted sr. security and network infrastructure professionals who work for mid-range ($50 million - $1 billion) and F1000 ($1 billion+) organizations based in New York, and about 15-20 vendor/sponsors. The meeting format includes continental breakfast, lunch and 3 50-minute panel discussions alternating with 3- 5 30-minute presentations.


Here are some things you need to be aware of as a panelist:


  • Make a point, tell a story. The best way you can communicate your ideas is to make a point, and then tell a story that illustrates your point. It should be a story taken from something you have experienced, not a generic "what if." You can cite a study, or a security event that impacted you, but it should be drawn from something you know.

  • Disagreements sharpen the issues. We encourage you to disagree with others on the panel, even if it is only slightly, because it helps the audience sharpen their engagement with the discussion.  If all of us think the same, then some of us are not thinking.

  • Think in terms of the audience take-aways.  What would you like to learn from this panel? It is a good idea to think about the audience as if you were in the audience.  What would you find useful if you were attending this panel?

  • The moderator steers, you drive. The moderator will ask some questions, to move the panels along, but you should not wait for the moderator to ask you a question.  Jump in with your points, interrupt someone if you feel the need. The best panels are when you drive the discussion.

  • Look at the audience when you speak. You may want to look at the other panelists when you speak—that is the tendency, and that is ok. But remember you have the floor and you want to look at the audience to see how they are tracking with you. It also invites them to engage with questions of their own. So look at the audience, too.

  • Don’t take interruptions personally. One of the things a moderator does is keep the discussion organized, on point and on time.  Part of that is making sure everyone has a chance to speak. If the moderator cuts you off, it's for the good of the panel or because of time restraints, and not directed against you personally.   

  • Be proactive.  While we do want to follow our discussion guide, which allows for equal time among the panelists, and don't want any one person to "hog the limelight" -- you also don't need to wait for the moderator to call on you all the time. You can jump in and make your points if the opportunity arises.  The best panels are the ones where the conversation flows. You should be yourself.  

  • Make it personal. Throughout the panel, when you tell personal stories, have a specific instance or customer in mind (no names). Be sure to tell us the Before, During and After. What problems you were asked to help with, what challenges you encountered with the implementation and what were the unexpected consequences. And tell us how it worked--did you save the day or sink the boat?   

Outline/ Discussion Guide
 A few days before the event, our moderator Priscilla Tate will email everyone on the panel a discussion guide, or outline, which you can comment on and make any changes or suggestions you wish.  On some panels, we will also send you the night before an abbreviated outline that will have only the points you wanted to make. It is simply a memory jogger you can glance at on your smartphone if you need to. 

Sometimes we like to suggest in these outlines a "role" you might play on the panel, as it can help in a discussion to have different points of view represented that encompass the parameters of what is being discussed. You don’t have to take the role we  suggest; come up with your own. The important thing for you to know that playing a role sometimes helps the audience follow and participate in the discussion. It further separates you from representing the views of your company. If the audience knows you are playing a role, you will have no trouble being yourself.


We generally like to break our discussions into 3 segments:  

  • Introductions to ourselves, the topic and why we are having this particular discussion

  • Challenges and obstacles: Implementation issues, war stories, customer anecdotes.

  • Best practices & takeaways: Workarounds, rules of thumb, and a little future-predicting if time allows.




TechForum's Security Forum: Trends in Enterprise Security presenters have a solo 30 minute time slot.

Here are some suggestions for our Presenters (Gold Sponsors) 


  • Titles. Once we have an idea of what  you want to address, let us know your working title, or we can help you come up a with a catchy title that doesn't replicate other content and intrigues the attendees.  We suggest a counter intuitive title, or something that taps into a feeling about the aspects of security you're going to cover. That gets people curious about what you're going to say.  You don’t have to make the title summarize what you're going to cover. 

  • Know your (our) audience. Our audience is filled with savvy senior IT managers from large companies, most with at least one certification.  On the whole, the biggest mistake presenters make is to talk down to our audience. You should gear your words to what you would want to say if you had a 20-minute meeting with the CISO of a major bank.  There will be a lot of those in the audience. Here's a list of past attendees and current registrants (updated for each new event) to get a feel for company names and titles attending

  • You have 30 minutes. If you want to definitively win over the crowd for life, stop at 20-25 minutes and tell them you want to end early, so there's time for discussion or questions. We have a person who will give you the timing signals. Or, even better: Suggest they meet you at  your table or after the Keynote with any questions they may have. 

  • At the beginning and end, tell us what you do best, and what makes you different. No one likes sales pitches. But it isn't a sales pitch when you let the audience know why you believe strongly in your company and its services/ products.  The beginning or the end of your presentation (or both) reinforce what you do better than everyone else, or how you're different from the other vendors that are present.

  • Colorful anecdotes enliven your presentation. You can weave-in recent exploit form the news or reference a customer without naming them. People remember the stories. Or, as PT Barnum would say,” They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”


We also ask that: 

  • You send us the presentation in advance. We'll give you an immediate turnaround feedback with an eye what might be appropriate for the audience.   But the presentation is yours. You do not have to take our advice.

  • Please bring your presentation on your own device, and email the final version to us. That is for backup. If you're delayed by a late plane or have a family emergency, there will be a copy of your presentation at the event.  Someone from your company can stand in for you if there is a copy of your slideshow. 

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