By Michael Fox
Your corporate presentation is a critical piece of your investor relations strategy — but effectively distilling your corporate story into just a few slides can be a bigger challenge than it seems. There are common mistakes that can betray your company’s intended message.
These five changes can help you transform your IR deck into a powerful tool that builds trust and garners investor interest.
1. Condense Your Story to One Slide
Every effective investor presentation should start and end with a succinct investment summary slide. This isn’t the place to detail every aspect of your corporate story, but rather, to summarize your story into razor-sharp investment highlights that fit on one slide.
If you feel like your business has too many features to fit on one page, remember: If you can’t boil your investment highlights down to one page, investors will invariably do it for you — and often in a less favorable manner.
Use the following structure to condense your story into the most important points:
2. Reconsider Your Graphics
Adding images and visuals is a great way to make a presentation memorable and engaging. However, keep in mind that your target audience is investors, not consumers. Including excessive consumer branding and generic stock photos will turn investors away more than draw them in.
Try to keep your slide boundaries and background areas clean or empty. Avoid using images that look like they belong in a commercial ad — images of generic businessmen and women looking at computers won’t do anything to sell your story. Instead, opt to include real photos of your facilities, products, or equipment in the field.
3. Simplify Your Statistics
The statistics and data you choose to include can make or break your presentation. Too often, companies get caught up in wanting to present the most impressive and complex information — which can actually have the unintended effect of creating distrust and confusion.
First, take a look at your charts. Make sure your visuals are designed to effectively communicate the takeaway. Pie charts with too many slices, bar charts with poorly grouped columns, and line graphs with illegible labels will simply raise more questions than they answer. Fortunately, these can usually be remedied with just a few clicks in Excel.
In addition, make sure any research designs, objectives, and results are clearly communicated. Showing that a study did not meet its primary objective or may have had enrollment anomalies, for example, is not nearly as destructive to your efforts as giving the impression that you are hiding those details.
4. Tone Down or Eliminate Effects
While PowerPoint includes the ability to add graphic touches (like shadows, bevels, and soft edges) and slide transitions to your presentation, these elements don’t belong in an investor deck. In many cases, your investor presentation will be printed on paper for investors to review, and those effects simply won’t show up or work on a static page. However, even if they do, they tend to draw attention away from what’s most important. Even in the best-case scenario — the effects aren’t an immediate distraction — they won’t add anything positive to your narrative. Nine times out of ten, it’s best to leave them out of your presentation altogether.
5. Adopt a Minimal Color Palette
Take a look through your deck. How many colors have you included? If you count more than four, it may be time to reconsider and redesign. Through our extensive IR services work, we’ve seen that the most effective investor decks use no more than three or four colors throughout the entire presentation. It may seem bland, but when a minimal palette of colors is used consistently and intentionally, the presentation exudes a sense of professionalism, focus, and integrity.
First, identify one or two core colors, and then pinpoint two additional complementary colors. Make sure that every element on each page, including text, bullets, charts, headers, and banners, incorporates only these colors. With that simple change, you can make your entire presentation look sharp and cohesive.
There may be countless ways to incrementally improve your presentation, but these represent the quickest and most effective steps you can take to earn investors’ interest and trust. For an in-depth look at how you can enhance your overall investor relations strategy, download the eBook, “Investor Relations Primer: The Basics of an Effective Plan.” If you need help creating a strategy that works for your firm, ICR offers a range of IR services. Contact us to learn more.