Investment Presentations – The Investor Audience
Your company has reached a milestone and wants capital to finance growth and expansion of your business. It may be venture capital, private equity, or access to public markets. In all of these cases, the ability to tell the company story becomes critical.
It seems easy as your leaders have been telling the company story for years. Many leaders founded their business, and their own story is a part of the company’s beginnings.
But, it isn’t easy. Because the investor audience is looking for a different element of the story. Investors care less about where the company has been and more about where the company could go. Leaders want to fund activities inside their companies, but investors want to know how activities impact the marketplace. Leaders tell the story from the inside out, from their products and services to viability in the marketplace. The investor story should be told from the outside in, leading listeners from marketplace trends and opportunities to the company’s ability to leverage it.
It must be a clear and memorable story that can be told in under 30 minutes.
That’s where SW&A can make a difference.
As a spoken communications firm, we build storylines that help communicators connect with audiences. Our approach begins with listener expectations and can help any company turn a story inside out.
Every funding conversation begins with data, but data should evolve into proof points that connect a company to broader trends and direction in an industry. And because the investor audience listens to multiple presentations in a week, the takeaways have to be memorable and the sound bites have to be repeatable.
We’ve been helping businesses make storylines memorable and repeatable for more than 30 years, and we do it in three steps:
- Step One: Storyline Development
- Step Two: Individual Coaching
- Step Three: Team Rehearsal
The key to impactful communication is to structure ideas with the listener in mind.
Listeners need three things: a clear and concise message that tells them what your company wants to do and why your company can do it, a framework that guides the storyline from opportunities to possibilities and actions, and measurable outcomes or proof points that confirm the message.
These three elements – a message, a framework, and outcomes – are the foundation of SW&A’s approach to communication structure.
To begin crafting the storyline, we review existing materials and interview leaders to capture the sound bites that exist today. This helps us create an outline that begins the structure of the storyline.
Storyline Development Follows Five Steps:
1. Leader Input: We interview a small group of leaders to find/understand the core elements of the storyline. This usually includes a few leaders beyond the core presenters because the best proof points are stories that may be in product or sales. We work through one contact in the company and will conduct up to eight interviews to get insights for outline development.
2. Storyline Outline: We draft an outline and the flow of the storyline for leaders to review. This provides a structure that the company can use to pull data points needed to support the storyline. Once we have details, we draft the first script.
a. Optional – Messaging Workshop: Some companies like to begin work on the storyline in a brainstorming day. Instead of individual interviews, we bring the key leaders together to collect insights, sound bites, and perspective on what the storyline should accomplish and what the differentiating factors should be. It’s effective as a starting point to help companies get consensus around the storyline.
3. Storyline Edits: The script goes through three rounds of edits to get leaders on board with the flow of the storyline and the key sound bites they want to share.
4. Visual Design: We also design the visuals for the storyline. Or, if a company has internal resources to do this, we work with that team to get to a final product.
5. Testing: Bankers usually “test” the company messaging within their own firms or with a few external groups for feedback. This may generate a final set of edits before the storyline is finalized.
Most funding presentations leverage the top leaders in a company. Some of these leaders are great communicators, and some are not. Some leaders have experience with an investor audience, and others don’t. And sometimes, the storyline includes a new idea or concept that brings a product or sales leader into the conversation.
Once presenters are identified, it’s important to evaluate the delivery skills of each presenter to see if individual coaching may be needed to strengthen confidence and credibility with the investor audience.
Assessment: SW&A can evaluate styles through videotape review or the company may have already determined the presenters who will need some refinement before funding presentations begin.
Style work may cover physical confidence, personal energy and commitment, or engagement with each listener. These sessions focus on one or two specific style challenges that could limit an individual’s impact in their presentation. We recommend two sessions with each leader to evaluate style and coach for improvement.
- Evaluation of Personal Style and Skills
- Coaching for Effectiveness and Impact (requires videotaping and critique)
Once all the elements of the storyline come together, a presentation group needs to practice the presentation and work on delivering it well as a team. A group rehearsal gives the team a chance to practice a simulated session, and each individual a chance to integrate the coaching skills.
We observe the interaction of the team and help you plan for the facilitation of the session. While group Q&A is a dynamic way for listeners to link elements of the storyline together, it can be hard on a team to manage the back and forth. It’s a fine balance of working together without repeating each other or contradicting each other. Based on the group’s skills, we’ll coach the fundamentals of answering questions effectively and demonstrate ways that the content can stay consistent and clear as messages are introduced by multiple presenters.
We can also help presentation teams segment elements of the storyline for a deeper dive on Q&A. When this is done, we can work with each presenter to fine-tune responses. This is driven by the format the bankers expect to use and how the presenters will be leveraged across the funding activity.
Essential Element: Flexibility
While a three-step process is our proven, best practices to get leadership teams prepared for funding presentations, the need from one company to the next isn’t always the same. Some companies need a lot of help; others just want an expert perspective on how to fine-tune their approach. And, many companies prepare for these events under time pressures. That’s why our partnership always includes flexibility.
When we meet your team, we bring a process that works and we adapt it to the deadlines you have to meet. Some groups go through all three steps and others ask us to work on only one. We can do a lot behind the scenes to evaluate and modify the storyline without disrupting the day to day schedules of the top leaders. And, we work within the time you have to get to the outcomes you need.
A partnership with SW&A delivers a clear storyline and compelling storytellers.
We can strengthen how your story is heard and influence whether you gain the funding needed to reach your next milestone.
And, that’s a difference worth investing in.