Better Analyst Briefings: Here’s the Bottom Line

When presenting to analysts there’s strong temptation to start with slides that are “all about you”—specifically meaning content on how and why your company is better than competitors. In fact, most analyst presentations muddle through company messages before they get to the crux of the presentation, or the real reason you wanted to have the briefing in the first place. There’s a better way to brief analysts and that’s first and foremost getting to the point, or in other words starting with “the bottom line.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr. By Fortune Brainstorm Tech. Creative Commons.
Photo courtesy of Flickr. By Fortune Brainstorm Tech. Creative Commons.

After spending nearly twenty years in marketing and working all of it in technology, I’ve either built slides for analyst briefings and/or presented slides myself. And I find that when presenting, analysts appreciate a messaging structure that looks like this:  1) the bottom line 2) facts 3) what this means or “why they should care” 4) reiterate.  Notice the proposed structure: what’s counter intuitive to most analyst briefings is that your company vitals (who we are, how many employees we have, what makes us different etc.) goes near the end of the presentation, not in the beginning.

Let’s distill this into digestible chunks. When briefing analysts make sure that you get right to the bottom line. In presentation parlance, this means you first “tell them what you’re going to tell them.” By first getting to the reason for the presentation, you’re able to focus the analyst’s attention on why you’re going to spend the next 30-60 minutes with him or her.  When “getting to the bottom line”, don’t be afraid to get crisp and clear as to what you want the analyst to learn/understand/walk away with. And also don’t be afraid to say; “here’s the bottom line.”

Second, the “meat” of the presentation should include facts, figures, statistics and anything else that supports your contention.  Here’s your time to shine as an industry expert. Tell the analysts what you’re seeing in a numerical fashion if possible. This is the time to bring out the guns with facts and figures that support your “bottom line”.

Third, tell compelling stories and cases of where your customers are implementing product X, Y or Z correctly, and don’t be afraid to share where mistakes were made. Keep in mind story telling is extremely under rated and often not done very well. Ultimately, it is customer stories where you have completed the real work that will keep your analyst presentation memorable, not facts and figures that escape the mind at light speed.

Finally, in the “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them again” messaging structure, it’s best to close with comments that re-iterate your key contention. Summarize in a crisp and clear fashion, with as few messaging points as possible. In essence, re-iterate your “bottom line.”

A question that ultimately pops up is “where do the company logo slides go?” Logo slides—those that proudly display all the client logos—should be placed near the back of your presentation as they are not as important in your storytelling structure as the “bottom line”.  Indeed, think of it as a movie trailer. The hook of the movie is much more important than the studio producing it.  And a key idea has far more staying power if it’s not interrupted with bland details of “about us” slideware.

Getting to the bottom line in your analyst briefings isn’t easy. You’ll be tempted along the way to work your storyline in a traditional manner, especially because enacting change is ever so difficult with senior leaders who may resist such a format.

But do carry on, because the ultimate goal of a briefing is to influence an analyst to take an action –to write about your company in a report, mention your company to their clients, or write a case study on your own customers.  The “bottom line” then, is important, because none of these things will happen if the analyst has forgotten your information thirty minutes after you close out the briefing call.

For more information on the “Art of the Analyst Briefing” see a post from Gartner’s Hank Barnes.

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