Once upon a time…
My youngest Joe is 10. He’s mildly dyslexic, so over the years we’ve worked particularly hard to help him get to grips with reading and build his confidence. He’s worked hard at it too and he’s doing well. One area he really struggles is creative writing. There’s a mental barrier thing going on there. He’s got a brilliant and quirky imagination, but when under formal pressure to write something ‘creative’ he freezes up.
A technique we’ve been trialling to help with this is to give him an opening sentence, which he then builds on to create a story. Last week, I fed him this starter line, ‘I looked up to see a six-foot wave bearing down on top of me….’
Without blinking, Joe took up the thread with, ‘What the eff I thought…’
That caught me off guard. Unexpected, yes. Concerning, definitely. But not all bad and I didn’t want to break his flow.
Joe carried on, ‘What the eff I thought…as I scrambled to the nearest rock!’
Then nothing. Still a little perturbed at my 10-year old’s use of ‘eff’ (I blame his mother), I asked if that was the end of the story, to which Joe replied, ‘Yep, it’s a cliff-hanger’.
I’m biased obviously, but I was impressed, and Joe’s brief tale got me thinking about effective storytelling. Specifically around what I believe to be one of the most commonly missed opportunities in business – investor communications.
Joe’s tale, brief as it was, and as well as making me smile, did three key things: it got my attention; I won’t forget it; and it left me wanting more. Now if every investor presentation could do that…
A quick recap on Brand Magnetism…
Magnetic Brands are defined by an extraordinary and enduring level of attraction, loyalty and resilience. They recognise and embrace the power of being more human, in pursuit of both profit and positive impact.
From close work with countless brands for over 25 years, we’ve identified four ever-present characteristics from which this rare level of attraction stems; Purpose, Imagination, Generosity and Authenticity. We call them the Muscles of Magnetism because each may not only be developed and honed, but flexed to varying degrees subject to context and requirement.
While building and honing these muscles over the long term is the route to enduring attraction, there are advantages to be had from some flexing in the short term too.
With that in mind, and focusing on investor presentations, let’s take a look at how viewed through the lens of Brand Magnetism, you can make sure yours packs a knockout punch with these pitch deck tips.
How to create an investor presentation
A missed opportunity
Quite why so many investor presentations fall short of the mark, I’ve never really understood, but we see it frustratingly often.
With so many compelling things to say, the default position seems to be dry, over wordy and unremarkable.
There are boxes that must of course be ticked:
- the overview,
- key business facts,
- the size of the opportunity,
- the scale of returns,
- analysis of the market and competition,
- the strategy,
- the team,
- the longer term view.
It all needs to be there, but the problem comes when there’s a lack of cohesion, flow, and a central unifying thread, and it becomes a series of overcrowded, unconnected slides.
Let’s presume the standard expectations are all covered. The rigour around content and detail is all there, supported by sufficient research, data and defensible assumptions. With that banked, so to speak, let’s look at how it can work harder.
Show some purpose
Purpose is a shortcut to emotion and emotion is how we as humans connect with one another.
Contrary to what we often try to convince ourselves, we don’t make purchase decisions rationally. Investor presentations are a sell, the biggest, and emotion gives you an edge.
Of course, the facts and figures need to be there and stack up to a compelling commercial proposition, but don’t be afraid to share more of the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing, above and beyond profit. Your goal is to get the potential investor to buy into the journey as well as the destination.
Purpose is defined as a reason for doing something, and a sense of purpose reflects resolve and determination.
So be genuine here.
If you’re doing what you’re doing to save the world, and make money on the way, great, let that message shine through. But never over claim, simply being purposeful is enough. Show some grit and passion and you’ll not only get more attention in the moment, you’ll be much harder to forget later.
Let that raison d’etre and commitment to it permeate your entire presentation, and reap the power of its attraction. This is the most powerful weapon in your emotional armoury and the easiest to tap into. Go on, make your audience feel something.
Use your imagination to capture theirs
Magnetic Brands flex the human super-power of imagination at every opportunity, sometimes to solve key business challenges, sometimes simply to be remarkable and stand out.
Both scenarios apply here.
The business challenge is that you are one of many investment options, and as fantastic an opportunity you know your venture to be, you have severely limited time to convince others that yours is worth their time and attention.
So think about how well you’re telling your story. How can you bring it to life in a way that ensures your story is the one that’s remembered? Ideas live or die by how they are executed, so be creative. Is there an opportunity to show, rather than tell? To create a moment that will endure in memories long after the event? Presentation skills count for a lot of course, but build on that with careful consideration the words and visuals you use, and the overall approach you take.
This should never be at expense of the content, risk distracting from it, or being perceived as frivolous, but all too often presentations lack that spark of imagination. Your goal is to paint a powerful and compelling picture as to why purses should be opened.
There’s additional value to displaying creative thought too. Creativity is well understood and recognised now for its commercial value. Creative thinking sits at the heart of innovation and innovation drives growth. This will hold additional appeal to the knowing investor.
Give more of yourself and more opportunity for dialogue
Generosity is a powerful Muscle of Magnetism, particularly on a macro scale. In a comms activity as specific as an investor presentation, the role of generosity may not be as significant or obvious as purpose, imagination and authenticity, but there is scope and opportunity nonetheless.
What does generosity look like in investor presentation slides? There are two specific ideas to consider here. The first is about finding opportunities to involve your audience. Generosity is about giving, so how can you give your audience more of a voice? Look for ways to create dialogue through the course of the presentation, and move away from the standard lecture followed by questions format. And think about where that involvement starts and finishes too. It needn’t be confined to the one hour presentation slot, offer as much time in advance and after the pitch as you can. The more generous you are with your time, the greater the potential to build a relationship, and that is a key objective here.
Point two is to share something of yourself personally. Not the ins and outs of your private life, but by shedding a little light on who you are and what makes you tick on a personal level, you humanise the interaction and up the potential for buy-in. People buy people, so don’t be a closed shop. Which leads neatly on to…
Be yourself and recognise the appeal of imperfection
As acknowledged earlier, your presentation has certain boxes that have to be ticked. You can’t scrimp on the rigour behind the figures, the key facts and critical information. But think of that as just part of your product. With the basics covered, the real opportunity – and the very essence of Brand Magnetism – is in the creation of extraordinary attraction through embracing the power of being more human.
Authenticity is fundamental to that. As humans we are drawn to genuine people. It’s a simple trust thing. We also spot very quickly when people aren’t genuine, and our reaction is in the opposite direction, we’re repelled. This should be particularly good news to anyone whose first thought at giving an important presentation isn’t one of unbridled joy.
It means you can be yourself. More than that, you should be yourself. Many a study has shown that we are attracted to imperfection. So a super-polished performance from you is not a prerequisite for success. In fact, it’s likely to be the opposite. So just do your thing.
End of story, or just the start?
So there we have it, investor presentations viewed through the lens of Brand Magnetism.
Apply the Muscles of Magnetism to objectively evaluate and shape your pitch and it will emerge with more power and resonance. And with a bit of luck, who knows, perhaps like with Joe’s story you’ll leave your audience craving to know more.
Oh, and re the use of expletives… it can work, but I’d recommend gauging your audience first.
If your presentation would benefit from a fresh look, get in touch. And if you’d like to be kept up to date with all the latest on Magnetic Brands, plus other sources of inspiration and insight, subscribe to our monthly round-up here.