We got this question from an IRO recently right after their earnings release. Looking to streamline her presentation, she asked, “What should my Earnings Deck cover? Any advice on general flow? What are the must-haves? Our deck has bloated over time, and I feel like we’re not communicating well.”
I see a lot (a lot!) of earnings decks, and I get it. In spite of best intentions, many of these presentations don’t deliver a clear message succinctly. Some decks grow so unwieldy over time that they lose their original essence. Plus, it’s time-consuming to create these each time.
Earnings storytelling and deck-building can be simple and yet very effective. In this blog post, let’s dive into the outline (or flow of contents) for your deck as any improvements here will give you the most bang for the buck. A strong outline will help elevate messaging, and streamline your content and efforts.
Your very first slide should give an executive summary of your latest quarter.
A ‘Quarterly Highlights’ slide provides a quick overview for your audience, setting the stage for the rest of the presentation.
Consider this scenario as you prioritize what goes into your quarterly highlights: If an analyst can only spare a moment to review this particular slide and nothing else, it should still provide them with a robust understanding of your previous quarter’s performance and your outlook.
Next, consider having a ‘Business Updates’ section in your earnings deck. Here, you should seek to show all the BIG things you are accomplishing on your business.
M&A related news
Key product launches or customer wins
Accomplishments along your long-term strategy execution
Your goal should be to stick to only the most important business updates, and limit yourself to 2-3 slides at the max.
Now, dive into the key numbers. Frankly, this is the section that your audience is eager for, and that’s why they are here.
As you get into the financials, don’t just state the numbers. Explain if they are better or worse, and provide color on the whys. Write clear headlines, and provide brief commentary along with your data charts to say what you want your audience to hear.
Consolidated financials (revenue, EBITDA)
Segment financials (revenue, EBITDA and commentary)
Higher priority Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Metrics
Non-GAAP Business KPIs that provide meaningful insights into your business
Many companies with 2-3 segments are able to convey the “numbers story” in 3-6 slides in this section. If you want to go in the weeds, or if there is data that only a small portion of your audience cares for, consider putting that in the Appendix.
By this point, you’ve shared about your last quarter’s performance. As you close, your audience wants to know your business forecast for the remaining year. Clearly share with them whether you’re increasing, decreasing or reaffirming your guidance.
So, there you go! If you prioritize your content well, a compelling earnings deck can be achieved in 8-12 money slides upfront (while using your appendix for FYI content). Some of our clients have pretty much the same outline or set of slides over the last 8-12 quarters. Of course, their data and numbers are updated each quarter, and they continue to lean on strong and clear headlines and commentary to tell the right story.
As we approach the Q4 / full-year earnings season, see if you can apply these ideas into your earnings deck. Let me know if you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off of me. You can also drop me a line at [email protected]
Earnings Presentation isn’t just about getting the numbers right.
It’s about delivering a story that accurately and compellingly conveys your business performance.
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