Choosing Investor Events Speakers: Rookies or MVPs?

With the right executive coaching you can make a good speaker great for your investor event. But don’t even think you can make a poor speaker great. 6th Installment of Great Investor Relations Events Just "Happen" ... Right? -- How to produce awesome Investor Events. White Paper excerpts with great tips and career threatening mistakes to avoid when talking to Wall Street. For a complete copy of this whitepaper just click "CONTACT" and request the FREE full copy.

With the right executive coaching you can make a good speaker great for your investor event. But don’t even think you can make a poor speaker great.  Although harsh, we are not all created equal in this respect.

Think about it this way. There are those people in life who are naturally funny. Right?  But, nothing is more painful than watching a person who isn’t funny try to stagger through telling a joke. The same can be true for presenters at your investor events. Those presenters who are comfortable and more importantly LIKE to be in the spotlight are your clear winners. In choosing speakers for your critical investor events, you should think beyond C-level executives (who should, of course, be represented) and include other high-level managers and technologists who can tell your company’s story with authority and passion. And, most of importantly, choose one with a personality.

When inviting executives to present at your investor relations events, it’s best to ask them to address topics and content that they know very well, so that they will be comfortable in front of a demanding audience. I know this sounds fundamental, but you’d be surprised how often executive speakers are asked to speak out of their depth on technical topics. It may be a mistake for example, to ask your CFO to talk about a breakthrough technology. And it may be better not to ask the Sales VP to address recruitment and retention in a fast-growing market. If it’s important for you to give “air time” to these executives, their topics should more closely match their expertise. This credibility factor is key in producing investor events that boost investor confidence.

By the time you begin to identify speakers, you have already established your process for preparing for the event. This process will include a rigorous rehearsal schedule for the six weeks leading up to the event. All the speakers must be able to commit the minimum amount of time per week for group meetings and individual rehearsals (most likely conducted by web conference) to assure that all presentations deliver consistent messages with polish and confidence. 60-90 minutes per week is sufficient time for the presentation development progress. If an individual executive speaker cannot commit the time for this process, investor relations should ask them to wait for a subsequent event that is a better match for her or his schedule.

NOTE: I just re-read what I wrote. I did not mean that all rehearsals should be in a group critique setting. Please GOD no! Groups are not qualified to critique anyone. There should be one presentation authority (dictator) identified—ideally, an outside presentation professional in the field of executive coaching or creative content development as they have no political reason not to tell the truth.  This professional should also work with speakers one-on-one.It’s also important for executive presenters to have a true command of the English language. Many companies are justifiably proud of their globally diverse management teams, which enable them to compete for business in many cultures worldwide. However, if an executive’s English is imperfect or if his accent is too difficult to understand, he probably won’t be an effective speaker at formal investor conferences. With that being said, a good executive presentation coach can make a speaker with a strong ethnic accent seem charming—instead of obtuse. But even with intense rehearsals guided by an executive coach or presentation coach or agency specialist, it is hard to compensate for a limited vocabulary or an unintelligible accent. CRITICAL NOTE: Under the pressure of speaking to an audience of any kind, it is human nature that a speaker like this without coaching and confidence building will likely revert to his usual speech pattern, and the audience may not get the message.

Picking the right presenters for your investor event team is the responsibility of the IR department, just as a coach chooses the right line-up for a crucial game—rookies or MVPs. It’s your choice.