Your Webcast Checklist: Running a smooth earnings call

9 January 2017

By Tiffany Regaudie

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Earnings is a whirlwind. From waiting on final numbers to preparing your CEO for every scenario imaginable, coordinating all the moving pieces of an earnings call can be the most stressful time in any IRO’s professional life. IROs are often a team of one, and we understand it can be difficult to fit extra earnings call best practices into a jam-packed logistics schedule.

While it may be tempting to cut some corners to save time (we understand — efficiency is important!), we’ve put together a list of tasks to consider incorporating into your pre-earnings workflow. You may end up thanking yourself later when your earnings call is smooth sailing.

Test your audio ahead of time.

Take the time to do a stream test before your earnings call. You may be surprised at what can affect sound quality: the size of your room, outside noise and proximity to windows, whether the room is concrete or glass, etc. The wrong environment can make your call sound like it’s happening in a fish tank. And when investors are unable to understand your message on the call, they may tune out or drop off … and walk away without knowing about your growth.

Disruptive situations can blindside IROs and executive teams. “I remember an earnings call that took place while a music festival raged outside. Investors were treated to an online concert, but not much else,” says Calvin Yeung, Digital Events Coordinator at Q4. “Another disaster story includes an air conditioner that was so loud you could barely hear the call, or what about the time an AV team played some introductory house music that contained some choice curse words.” (Oops!)

The good news is that you can outsource consideration of these details to your webcast provider. We recommend scheduling a stream test with your provider earlier in your preparation cycle, before you become too busy. This will give you time to switch the location of the call if necessary. Your provider will ask questions about the space that you may be too preoccupied to think about, ultimately saving you time and a stressful call.

Choose your slide console features.

Slides change up until the last minute (thanks, legal team!), but you can plan your presentation style and console features ahead of time. You can retain full control of your deck in presenter mode, which you may want to do if you anticipate a difficult call. If your call is full of great news about company growth, you may want to allow investors to flip through your deck at their leisure with user control.

GoDaddy uses a presentation slide widget to control their slides while giving investors the option to download the deck and follow along on their own. The small add-on is an easy way to put the power into the hands of the investor and allow them to circle back on a slide they may be interested in or skip ahead to see what’s coming — to keep a pace that works for them.

GoDaddy_earningscall

GoDaddy gives investors the option to download their deck and follow along on their own.

Prep your CEO — for everything.

Your CEO is under a lot of pressure during earnings. You can alleviate some of that pressure with early preparation. Walk through all possible scenarios with your CEO — every possible question from investors, good or bad. Assess their style in answering those questions and make suggestions on how your CEO can tweak tone or messaging, while providing reasons as to what may resonate based on shareholder sentiment.

While your CEO will ultimately decide how they want to deliver your company’s message, many are open to thoughtful feedback from IROs based on their detailed knowledge of shareholder sentiment. Also, while your numbers may not be final, it’s still wise to schedule preparation sessions with your CEO ahead of final numbers and after you’ve reviewed all investor communications materials from that quarter.

Develop a checklist for your CEO that focuses on what you’ve told investors during that quarter, so they can remain consistent. When you manage to review this checklist with your CEO early enough, you’ll be able to work in their comments and tweak messaging more quickly once final numbers have come in.

Finally, your CEO needs to sound clear and eloquent. If you see early on that your CEO is struggling with a difficult message, you may want to consider pre-recording your call. When you pre-record your call, you’re able to shift your preparation focus on the Q&A period with investors instead.

Pay attention to the analytics.

Your analytics from your previous earnings call tell a story. They tell you at which point people may have started to drop off; go back and listen to that portion of the call to see what can be improved and avoided for your next call. If you know that registration conversions were low for your last call, work in extra communications touch points with your investors to improve the rate of conversion for your upcoming call. This is especially important if you know your call is going to be full of good news, as a successful earnings call can set you up for an even more successful NDR or Investor Day after the fact.

 

We’re always here to help. If you have technical questions about running a successful earnings webcast, contact our client success team at
1-877-426-7829 (opt 2) or Peter Bonetta, client success manager, at peterb@q4inc.com.

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