Your PM is a brilliant researcher and has built a rock solid investment strategy. But if he or she can’t deliver a clear pitch to an investment board it is all for naught. We were at the AIMSE conference last week and heard Kevin Greely of Greely Communications share a handful of incredibly practical tips for getting your PM to become as great of a presenter as he or she is an investor.
1. Develop a 4% Message.
Research shows that the average audience takes away only 4% of the information you present. So if you had only 1 minute to convey how you differentiate yourself, what would you say? Lead with the elevator pitch and hammer your value proposition throughout.
2. Get Highly Interactive.
The team members of the PM, as well as the board members themselves, should become part of the conversation. More PMs win during Q&A than during prepared comments. Why? Because most people have similar prepared comments, running down the standard characteristics of firm, strategy and product.
3. Have an Interesting Message.
Why not give an example of a recent stock that you evaluated to show the investment process rather than just explain the process itself?
4. Attitude is Everything.
The PM needs to understand the importance of practice and improving. Greeley suggests that a PM practice giving the prepared remarks on camera once a year and reviewing it with an objective eye. The PM needs the attitude that they will get better with practice—everyone does (and very few are just “born with it.”)
5. Use Visual Aids.
First of all, we are all our own visual aids, so make sure that you dress the part (hunting jackets do not make the cut, as one horrified manager recounted). If there is an opportunity to draw a diagram, either on a whiteboard or on the back of a piece of paper, take that opportunity to show rather than tell.
6. Be Dynamic with Delivery.
Greeley notes that 80% of cues are non-verbal, so posture, hand gestures and attentiveness are more important than we may realize. If a PM dismantles a pen and reassembles it while standing in front of the room, that probably won’t bode well for impressing the board.
7. Make Your Team Look Good.
The PM should offer up leading questions to the other coworkers in attendance (who should all have a scripted time to speak—if you aren’t planning to speak, they shouldn’t be there). Then, the PM should make a remark like, “We brought our best large cap analyst to explain a recent buy recommendation…” And don’t be afraid to say something positive about the firm itself—but keep it sincere, not self-ingratiating (“I feel at home with such smart people” won’t go over well).
8. Project the Right Attitude.
Every PM is extremely smart and well educated. Harping on these qualities or trying to prove them to be of any interest to the investment board will come across as arrogant. People are looking for credibility, confidence and likability.
9. Be Adaptive.
Every presentation environment is different, with varied audiences and different stages. The PM needs to practice presenting while sitting or standing, in front of 1 or 6 people.
10. Debrief Afterwards.
After the presentation, the team needs to sit down for 15 minutes and give an honest assessment of what seemed to work well and what could be improved upon. This shouldn’t be an attack—it should be an objective assessment. The military calls this activity an AAR—After Action Review—and one follows every mission. If you don’t reflect on what worked well and what you would change, it’s difficult to improve.
Greeley strongly believes that a PM needs to have “presentation fitness” in the same way that we think about our own physical fitness: you don’t get a flat stomach by going to the gym once, and you don’t become a rock star presenter without a lot of practice.