Thoughts from seat 29D

I’m on my way home from the Big Apple, and with a little downtime on the flight I have a chance to think about the analyst/investor day I just attended. Many companies typically do these events annually and they have become pretty “cookie-cutter” in nature. However, I think it’s always good to reflect on some of the elements that make these shows fun, and some of the things you need to watch out for that make these events less than enjoyable, lest we become too complacent in our planning.

So, in no particular order, here are my top ten things that usually ensure a good event:

  1. New news-If at all possible, announcing something new (e.g. acquisition, new product, strategic partnership, etc.) always makes for good theater. At this recent event, the news of a new strategic partnership agreement was simultaneously announced with the distribution of the press release, and it made for a much more exciting atmosphere.
  2. Have a deep agenda-As many members of management should present as possible. If you have a particular business that is a focus area, make sure that the person who runs that area is a speaker. Analysts and investors want to see management depth and this is your opportunity to demonstrate that.
  3. Product demos are always a hit-Everybody loves “show and tell” and it really lightens the mood in the room. Hint: make sure the demo works before you take it prime-time and have a back-up; equipment malfunctions can turn things south pretty quickly.
  4. Ample time for questions-Allow questions after each individual presentation. This keeps the multiple-hour sessions lively and fresh. The more interactive you can make the format, the better.
  5. Videos are always a good way to get the program rolling-Folks love videos as long as they are not too long. No more than 3-4 minutes, tops! Again, this helps vary the format and keeps the audience focused and engaged.
  6. Provide copies of the slide decks (with space for notes)-I saw analysts and investors taking copious notes and they love to be able to have the slides to reference for their questions.
  7. Webcast/webcast/webcast-It’s that simple. I believe you lose a good portion of your audience by not making the presentation available via webcast. It’s the age of anytime/anywhere and analysts want to be able to refer back to the archive. So let’s make it easy for them.
  8. The venue-You can do it in any city that you want, as long as that city is New York. Yes the traffic stinks and the hotels are expensive, but it’s where the bulk of the analysts and investors are located, and it is convenient for the entire Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.
  9. Layout of the room-Wider rooms with classroom seating seems to work better. Don’t ask me why, it just does!
  10. The simple stuff-Please make sure that there is ample time for breaks. When you have 50 or 60 people in a room it’s hard to cycle them through the bathrooms in less than 15 or 20 minutes. Plus you have to give them time to play with their new iPhone 6s…

And let’s not forget those things that can make the format less enjoyable:

  1. Presentations go too long-The day needs to be quick paced. Individual presentations need to be no more than 20-30 minutes, with 10-15 minutes of that reserved for questions. C level officers get the high end of that range; everybody else gets the lower end.
  2. Cadence and content of the presentations is too different-Continuity is a good thing. Of course, each speaker is going to have their unique perspective and set of issues, but all presentations should follow the same format – tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then end it by telling them what you told them.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought when you plan your next analyst/investor day. Oh, by the way that reminds me. Keep the food simple. As one CEO told me, “Nobody likes that fru-fru stuff.”

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