Investor days. They’re a well-trodden path for an efficient way to engage with your shareholders. But, as we have seen in the last fortnight, they can go terribly wrong when executed poorly, and damage the reputation of your CEO, and hurting your shareholders where it hurts most – the share price.

Preparing and organising an investor day may feel like a very time-consuming event in your investor relations program. It should be. When approached with clear intent and experience, a smoothly run event with clear delivery of your strategy reflects well on the company – and importantly – gives a platform for the senior team behind the CEO – the people who execute on all those shiny PowerPoint strategies.

Here are five important steps for a successful investor day:

1.       Ask your investors what they want to hear

Your investor day is not an earnings’ call or an introduction to your company. Instead, it presents a unique opportunity to speak with your investors about longer term strategy and how the team plans to get there. It’s also an opportunity to address any misconceptions.

So, what’s the best way to understand investors’ concerns or questions? Are they particularly interested in one of your business units? Or in your expansion strategy? Notes of previous meetings and reviewing investor questions from recent calls will be helpful but what better way to understand current needs than to ask. A well-crafted perceptions audit will highlight areas of the business your investors would like deeper understanding or uncover misunderstandings. It also reinforces the reputation of your company for engaging in two-way conversations with shareholders.

Conducting an audit through a third-party protects the identity of respondents and may mean investors are more candid with their requests. So, whether via a quick online survey, on the phone or via email, an audit is a good tool to start planning your investor day.

2.       Don’t shy away from big topics

Content is key and is the core reason why shareholders will take the time out to attend your investor day. Using feedback from your perceptions audit, craft a presentation, or series of presentations, which directly address investors’ concerns or interests.

One of the objectives of the event should be to give your audience a more comprehensive understanding of your strategy and the capability of your team. This may result in having a different structure and new speakers for each of your investor days, depending on the current focus for your company.

3.       No detail is too small

It’s essential to appoint a co-ordinator for the day, someone to keep a highly detailed schedule of tasks, taking into consideration not only the content but the location, process for registering and investor queries. You don’t want the size of the room or quality of audio at your investor day to detract from the content so, make sure you also consult with your venue in the planning stage.

Small details, such as the appropriateness of gifts given to attendees, can raise eyebrows. While a small token or samples of products may be appropriate, investors want confidence that you are looking after their investment responsibly.

A well thought-out timeline which includes deadlines and responsibilities will ensure you have covered everything. Holding regular meetings with your planning team will keep you accountable for completing all minor tasks to limit the last minute rush in the lead up to your event.

4.       Rehearse

Let’s not forget that only seven per cent of how we communicate is content – tonality of voice and body language has a huge influence on how messages are received.

Spending time rehearsing those conscientiously constructed presentations may be the most valuable time spent preparing for your investor day. Not only will the presenters need to know their content inside out and present it with authority and composure, but they will need to be prepared to answer attendees’ questions with confidence.

Taking the time to curate a mix of presentation styles will help to maintain investor engagement. For example, you could break up more traditional presenting with interview style sessions or panels. Scheduling time for Q&A after every speaker will also help keep an energetic tempo.

Because investor days are often webcast to a wider audience and kept on company websites for future reference, the need for quality presentations, sound and filming is even more important.

A full rehearsal will also ensure speakers are familiar with the technology being used, the amount of time they take to deliver their presentations and how the Q&A will work. For many senior leaders, an investor day may be their first experience engaging with the investment community. It’s a big moment in their career – make sure you set them up for success.

5.       Get feedback

While some attendees will voluntarily offer feedback, a survey to gauge effectiveness can provide objective measurement.. It is important to send surveys immediately after the event while still fresh in your attendees’ minds. It also provides an opportunity to follow up with answers to questions or material that was presented during the day.

Feedback from the survey can be useful in constructing speaking notes for upcoming earnings calls, roadshows and of course the next investor day. Be sure to craft your survey with a combination of questions that deliver both qualitative and quantitative insight which can provide valuable feedback not only for the IR and Comms team but also for management and your Board.