Corporate Presentation or Fireside Chat?

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The main objective for most companies that participate in investment bank conferences is increasing their exposure to current and potential new shareholders. With more than 70 investment bank healthcare-specific conferences scheduled each year, companies have many opportunities to meet with investors. Over the past several years, many of these banking-sponsored investor conferences have given corporate management teams the option of a “fireside chat” session as opposed to a standard corporate presentation.

For decades, investment banks have hosted investors conferences where institutional clients have the opportunity to listen and meet with C-Suite executives from hundreds of different companies. These conferences typically schedule companies to present for approximately 30 minutes. For the past several years, many of these conferences have migrated to a fireside chat option, where the bank’s research analysts will host a question and answer session instead of a standard corporate presentation. While this casual analyst moderated conversational sessions are typically favored by corporate management and investors, they may not always be the best option.

Pros and Cons of Fireside Chats

Below are a few pros and cons for fireside chats:

  • Presentation style. Corporate presentations can be tedious and repetitive, and not every presenter is comfortable talking for 25 minutes straight without a break. Typical corporate presentations describe the company’s products and markets, which many in the audience may already know well. On the other hand, fireside chat sessions can be more relaxing, as they are typically more conversational, allowing management time to regroup during the moderator’s questions. Based on the knowledge and the line of questioning from the moderator, investors may learn more from these type of sessions.
  • Controlling the message. When a company presents its corporate slide deck, it can control how it talks about certain aspects of the business. During a moderated conversational session, the moderator could press management for information about subjects they would like to avoid. On the flip side, moderators may not get to subjects that management believes to be very important to their story.
  • The audience/investors. As with all presentations, knowing the makeup of the audience should help to determine which type of presentation to choose. Investors with a greater amount of industry and corporate knowledge of the company presenting will typically benefit more from a fireside chat session than a standard corporate presentation. On the other hand, investors looking to learn about a specific industry or company will benefit more from a standard corporate presentation.

Fireside chat sessions are becoming more popular during investment bank-sponsored investor conferences. These sessions can be very informative for many investors, but participating companies must determine which is the best form of presentation for the majority of the audience. Companies that are relatively new to the public markets can benefit more by presenting the corporate deck to investors, as many will not have in-depth knowledge of the company’s products. Also, companies that have a message that it needs to convey to investors in a certain way may also want to choose a corporate presentation over a fireside chat session, as it allows management to control the tone of the message.

Companies that have been public for many years and do not have new products or services to explain via a presentation, may benefit from a moderated conversation. This type of session can be more relaxing to corporate presenters, allowing for a more interactive and productive session for investors.

Both types of presentations have their pros and cons, and knowing what type of message needs to be conveyed and what type of investors will be in the audience, will help determine know which style of presentation is warranted. For more thoughts on presenting at conferences and figuring out which format is the best for you, contact us.

Greg Chodaczek, Managing Director

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