As 2020 mercifully heads to the rearview mirror, it does appear that the virtual conference scene is likely here for at least the first half of 2021. Depending on the pacing of the vaccine rollouts, it may potentially stay until the fall of next year. With that in mind, managing the ever-shortening time slots at investor conferences will still be required for the foreseeable future. There are elements of formal presentations and individual investor meetings that need to be addressed, but the bottom line in both settings is to make sure that your message is being delivered in a succinct manner and that you’ve taken the time to assess how the messaging must be altered to fit the format. It is also important to provide the means for interested investors to connect with you afterwards.
Presentations: Keep it high level
The biggest challenge of formal presentations is the lack of physical proximity to the investors. There is no body language to read, and no one can ask an off-the-cuff question to signal some degree of interest, both of which make reading the room next to impossible. To combat this, the presentation should be kept as high level as possible in an attempt to reach as broad an audience as possible. The deck for this type of a presentation should be 10-12 slides that are long on narrative and light on dense science. The presenter should spend plenty of time on the executive summary to orient the audience with their company. Of course, both the relevant biology and data must be addressed to provide the proof points of the narrative, but the discussion should be kept at the generalist’s level. Finally, and most importantly, put the presenter’s contact information on the final slide and direct the audience to reach out for further information. These short meetings are best served as appetizers for the deeper dive to come.
1x1s or small group meetings: Get to the important part quickly
Managing virtual 1x1s, and particularly small group meetings, comes down to time allocation and level setting with the virtual format. Associated technical difficulties—a story of its own—provide many challenges. I have unfortunately witnessed far too many meetings where next to nothing is accomplished because the agenda isn’t set from the outset. To that end:
- Keep the intros to a minimum: introductions are usually a great part of meetings, but the Zoom format makes this hard and wastes time.
- Make sure you have a specific deck to cover a shorter meeting.
- Answer questions fully but succinctly. Get back on track quickly and make sure you are telling your story in the answers.
- Offer to follow up regarding dense questions, especially in a small group setting. Each investor comes to a meeting with an agenda. If one person’s agenda hijacks the meeting, you likely lose interest from the others. Don’t forget, the quiet one might be the buyer.
The objective of conference meetings, introducing your story to investors, remains the same, but the tactics need to shift in order to accommodate the fact that time has become scarce. Our experience has shown that a truly successful conference interaction in the context of the virtual world is a stepping stone to a more fulsome discussion to follow. If you want to make sure your slide deck is ready for upcoming virtual conferences, contact the Gilmartin team today.
Matt Lane, Managing Director