When it comes to investor relations, the buck stops with the CEO and their executive team, while many people in this position might not relish facing or presenting to the investment community, there’s no way out of it when it comes to the results being announced.
It can be daunting to face this audience, particularly if, as has been the case for some businesses in the last few years, it’s not been a stellar year for growth. Nonetheless, investors want to hear the boss explain how the previous year has been and more importantly, what the company has in store for the coming 12 months. For many executives, this process means making a presentation to outline the key details, then facing some probing questions to fill in any gaps that this doesn’t cover.
On the face of it, this seems straightforward; surely all executives are happy discussing the business they work for day in, day out? In reality however, it’s not quite so simple.
Firstly, being so close to the company can make it very hard to identify what the key issues for outsiders are – you have too much detailed knowledge and filtering all of this down to specific highlights isn’t easy to do. One common problem with presentation documents is that they are simply too long; if you are speaking for 20 minutes, then it’s no good having an unwieldy 60 slide PowerPoint to try and get through – you won’t even come close in that time.
Secondly, if you can’t inspire some confidence in the company and the route you are taking it on, then you will struggle to persuade investors to follow the business in the coming times. This takes a cool, calm approach that shows you are in control and if done well, it can inject a belief that can even help to drown out a poor set of numbers.
Thirdly, the fact is that not everyone is a natural communicator and these individuals have to work twice as hard to ensure they are getting across the right story to their audience, whether as part of a formal presentation, or in a question and answer session.
Fortunately it is possible for any company executive to master these potential barriers and present successfully, but it does take work. Our financial presentation training courses can make the difference between a presenter’s success or failure, but even before the formal session we advise delegates to try and carry some preparation such as; defining their message and researching the audience. It’s also very important that people come to the training with an open mind about the changes that could be made to their current style and approach.
Even after the training is completed there’s plenty more polishing and practice that can be carried out; getting honest feedback from people inside and outside of the business will help to refine your presentation too. Confidence in presenting for these scenarios will ultimately come from being comfortable in what you are saying to the audience, but also in being satisfied that you can handle any tricky questions that may come up.
So far this results season there’s been fairly good news coming out of UK businesses, but whether those about to announce their figures will be able to inspire confidence and gain investment will be, in good part, down to how they manage to communicate their story in the financial presentation.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.com – August 2013