Creating a presentation for an audience of investors is a balancing act. On the one hand, there are specific pieces of information that investors want to see in a certain way, and if you don’t provide that information, they’ll wonder what you’re trying to hide. On the other hand, investors see so many presentations every month — hundreds of slides, thousands of charts, and an endless barrage of bullets and sub-bullets — it’s no wonder that so few make a lasting impression.
What can you do to ensure that your message gets remembered? Here are four counterintuitive tips:
1. Simplify your slide templates. A slide template is like a champagne glass — ideally, your audience should remember the champagne, not the glass. Overly designed, heavily branded PowerPoint templates just distract from the information you’re trying to share. So resist the urge to incorporate fancy frames and backdrops; all you need is a logo and a page number in the corner of the slide.
2. Don’t rely on lists. Somewhere along the line, the business world became convinced that the most persuasive and memorable way to present information is in bulleted lists. And yet, a number of studies reveal that audiences have a harder time paying attention to, agreeing with, and remembering information when it’s presented in a list. No, you can’t eliminate bullet points altogether, but they shouldn’t be the only way you present your information.
3. Assert and illustrate. Most deck writers follow the label-and-list formula, where they title each slide with a short phrase. However, these simple labels sometimes fall short. Research shows that a full sentence headline, written as an assertion, dramatically increases the audience’s retention of slide content, especially when accompanied by a relevant, supporting image. For example, instead of a noncommittal label, like “Current Market Opportunity,” assert your key takeaway: “We Are Leveraging a Historic Market Opportunity.” And then prove it.
4. Design your data. PowerPoint makes it very easy to transform your spreadsheets into simple charts and graphs. However, a joint experiment conducted by Harvard and MIT revealed that unique data visualizations — for example, timelines, networks, diagrams, and infographics — had significantly higher memorability scores over common bar graphs and pie charts.
How well is your investor presentation working for you? Westwicke and ICR’s team of investor relations experts and presentation designers can audit your current deck and provide guidance for improvement. Contact us for more information.