Taking my poor presentation skills as a given, my experience at the Dow Jones Venture One conference yesterday was really lame.
Having been involved in events (Comdex, Interop, LinuxWorld) I've learned a fair amount. I've also participated in a ton of events, some good, some bad.
The main thing I look for is a program that meets the needs of the attendees and gives the speakers a fair chance at getting their attention. I think that this event was a failure at both.
The other thing I look for is for the event staff to be even remotely interested. The check-in people were nice enough, but several times I was shocked by roving squads of Dow Jones staff who didn't talk to the attendees and were overly gregarious.
And it could have just been me, but I really felt like they were looking at the presenters like we were lepers. I'll chalk that up to low self-esteem but it wasn't a friendly vibe from the staff.
The other issues:
-The company presentations were only 10 minutes long, but there was no moderator for the attendees to know who was who.
-There were 2 rooms going of company presentations AND they ran a "power-panel" type of thing at the same time. I had several people come up and tell me they missed my presentation because they were at something else.
Generally, I can't recommend that startups bother with this event. I am sure there is value for someone, but it wasn't me.