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The Westwicke Blog is designed to deliver information and insights into the ever-changing world of healthcare communications.

Fine-Tune Your Investor Deck for Success, Part I

Posted on February 5th, 2014. Posted by

Whether for a one-on-one at a conference or an IPO road show, your corporate presentation remains a critical piece of your investor relations strategy. A PowerPoint file may seem trivial compared to the entirety of your enterprise, but the investor presentation remains one of the most tangible and effective tools for building (and losing) investor trust and engagement.

With nearly 200 years of Wall Street experience combined, we have seen a wide variety of healthcare company presentations. While many successfully focus investors on key value drivers, just as many run into pitfalls that can betray the company’s intended message. Could your presentation be starting your investor interactions on the wrong foot?

The bottom line: efficient and transparent presentations breed trust. And in the same way, over-promotional and heavily “branded” decks can do the opposite, providing little more than extra friction and skepticism with your target audience. How can you achieve the former and avoid the latter? In this two-part series, I share some of the easiest ways to transform your presentation into something powerful. This first post focuses on two core content elements of your presentation, your investment summary and data. The second post will look at how your visual elements play a role in your effectiveness and some simple steps you can take to improve them.

Craft and distill your story – especially on slide No. 1

Your presentation should tell a clear, integrated story, and that story should fit on one slide. Your road show or conference deck isn’t the place to detail every aspect of your business. Nearly every effective investor presentation we have seen starts and ends with a succinct and compelling investment summary (often simply titled “Investment Highlights”). Have no fear of being me-too: these slides are simply too powerful and essential to become overused or appear cliché. Make sure you have a summary, and make sure it is solid. Stay close to the following structure and your 1:1 will already be well on its way to success:

  • Bullet 1 – Describe your business succinctly to help focus your audience
  • Bullet 2 – Discuss what is important about the market that you are focused on
  • Bullet 3 – Describe key products (e.g., pipeline products, therapeutic area focus, technology/platform), along with any other complementary detail
  • Bullet 4 – Include an additional highlight (e.g., IP strength, upcoming milestones, regulatory or reimbursement feature, partnership strategies)
  • Bullet 5 – Include a financial highlight (e.g., attractive financial model, cash/runway, other guidance)

Do you feel your business has too many features to fit on one page? As true as that may be, if you can’t boil down your investment highlights to a page, investors will invariably do it for you — and often less favorably. Be proactive and bookend your deck with razor-sharp investment highlights.

Build credibility with clear and conservative data representations

Statistics and data – especially in healthcare and the life sciences – can make or break a stock. And yet, presentations of data are among the most common sources of investor distrust. Avoid these pitfalls to make sure your data inspires further digging, not disdain:

  • Cherry picking – One can argue that subset analyses and other post-hoc “interpretive” touches to data can serve a constructive purpose. But it sends the wrong message if the majority of your data slides — and consequently, the bulk of the story — is dependent on them. Make a point of showing results for entire pre-defined study populations whenever possible.
  • Unclear study design or objective – Your analysts and investors should not have to guess your studies’ primary endpoints and objectives. While you may want to highlight one particular aspect of your results, do not withhold the original design details and endpoints. 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.
  • Cross-study comparisons – While it’s convenient and interesting to compare your drug’s clinical data with the results of a competitor, you may end up inviting further scrutiny or skepticism to produce a chart that suggests too much. Be wary of claiming something like superiority when your studies were not designed to do so, or of placing a data point from a separate study on the same chart or diagram as your own. Analysts and investors may ultimately do such exercises on their own to determine your commercial positioning. And in many respects, that’s just fine. It is better for charts with this more “casual” science to appear on their documents than your own.
  • Poor chart type selection – Pie charts with too many slices, bars with redundant or illegible labels, poorly grouped columns — these are all common data presentation pitfalls that can often be remedied with just a few clicks in Excel. Make sure the visual arrangement is designed to best communicate the takeaway message.

The ways to improve the content of your presentation materials may be countless, but these are among the easiest and quickest steps you can take to earn an investor’s interest and trust. In our next post, I’ll share some additional guidelines on visuals and graphics in your presentation.

Need help with your presentation today? Go ahead and contact Westwicke and let us help you refine your message and investor relations strategy – including your presentation – to inspire trust, diligence, and engagement.

Tom McDonald

Tom McDonald is a Partner/Managing Director and Head of Business Development. He is responsible for marketing the firm’s capabilities to potential new clients as well as the institutional investment community.

View full bio   |   Other posts by Tom McDonald

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