5 Presentation Lessons From the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Gradus

6 min readDec 20, 2018

Every presentation that your prepare and deliver is critical! One reason for this is because every time you present, you are standing with your name and reputation behind this presentation. Moreover, you could not be aware of the potential benefits or losses that this presentation could bring to you. In our case, we worked on a presentation project that managed to raise 82 million leva for our client Gradus and their IPO. That is a bit more than 40 million euro. Talking about critical presentations…

A quick history lesson before we start — in the last decade there were a few IPOs in Bulgaria and only one of them requires our attention — the one of First Investment Bank who raised 107 million leva (50+ million euro) back in 2007. Why are the other not able to “catch” our attention though — well, because the IPO that you are reading for at this moment became the second biggest in the history of the country positioning immediately after the one FIB managed to do. Our team was privileged to get invited and work on this project and in this article, we thought it would be nice to share with you some of the tricks that we used while building those super critical presentations.

Ready? Here we go!

Lesson 1: Understand that presentations that are to be delivered in front of a live audience and the ones you sent over e-mail are different.

Read carefully, this one is important! The proportion of your slides matters a lot. By default, PowerPoint starts in 16:9 (the one on the right). If you need to send a presentation via email, however, you can still use the old 4:3 slide size. When it comes to a presentation that will be delivered live, you should always stick to 16:9 (except if there is some very specific reason why not — the projector does not support it, for example). That’s the standard which everyone expects and more importantly, take a look around — you will see that everything is in wide-format nowadays — your phone, the TV, the office monitor, and so on.

In general, when someone opens a presentation in 4:3 format, you would notice that, let’s be honest, the audience is not that impressed. Trust us, you don’t want any negative emotions or feelings in your audience especially before your talk has even begun. And in the case of an IPO presentation — when you have only one chance to grab the attention and interest of the media and investors, stay away and make sure that everything is on your side!

There is more, though! Remember that when you send a presentation via email, you won’t be there to present it. This means that this presentation must be self-explanatory which immediately allows you to do not exactly a presentation but a document or the so-called “SlideDoc” in our industry. Therefore you can have even paragraphs of text together with your visuals.

That is not the case for the presentations that are delivered live. In that case, you as the speaker are the focus and the slides should be as simple as possible so that once your audience sees them, it takes them not more than 3 seconds but to understand them.

Do you see the differences here? These slides actually talk about the same thing. However, the one on the left is in the document and the one on the right was used by the CEO of the company during the live event.

Lesson 2: Every detail matters!

And by every — we mean it! Your presentation must be perfect to the last pixel. Yes, you may not be a designer, but you do not need to be one to ensure that everything is properly aligned and all elements have space to “breathe”. When on the subject of details you have to constantly ask yourself: “How can I make my message and my slides as simple as possible so that the audience has no other option but to understand me?” Check out the example below. One item is missing on the left picture. Can you find it?

You guessed right. Yes, there is no X-axis showing the years in the 2ndchart. Would that make things more difficult for the audience? In our case, yes. That is why it is part of the final version of the document. However, you can see that there is nothing else that prevents you from understanding it. No extra headlines, no grids, etc. And yes, we know that we’re repeating ourselves… But details. Details are what makes the difference!

Lesson 3: Do regular checks!

The above example we gave you was all about you caring about details. However, it could’ve been something we’ve simply missed. Now that’s unacceptable! Mistakes of such caliber are literally unthinkable, especially in a situation like this one. Always check your presentations several times. Furthermore, you could also send them to a friend or a colleague to double check. The more critical the presentation is, the more important it is to check everything. Do not compromise with this! One minor error can overturn your entire performance. Not worth it…

Lesson 4: The data source

If you are not being trusted, you have no shot. The trust factor is one of the most critical things in presentations. Aristoteles told us — if you want to move your audience and persuade them, you need Ethos(trust, credibility), Logos(logical arguments), Pathos(emotion). When you are presenting charts and data in general, you must include the source of that data by either saying it or even putting it on the slide. On the image above, you can see who audited the data to confirm that it is correct and more importantly — reliable. Do not forget that for your presentations because even in not that critical presentations like the one we are discussing here, your audience may lose trust in you just because you haven’t mentioned where is the data you are showing coming from. And once they lost the trust in you, it’s over.

Lesson 5: Use summary titles for your charts

Very often, when data charts are displayed, their title is something like “Results Q3” or “Budgets for TV”, etc. These titles are only effective if, as in the left example, you have an explanation of exactly what these charts tell you. On the other hand, in a live presentation, you want your audience to understand your slides with a quick glance. Trust us, you don’t want to lose their attention for too long by making them stare at your charts and asking themselves what those graphics are actually saying. In situations like this you can use one simple trick. Replace the standard title and put the summary of what the chart is saying as the title. In other words, just describe what the data says and what the conclusion of it is. In the literature, you may see that described as “action title” or “summary title”. To give you context — on the left-hand side the chart at the bottom uses a tittle: “Grain Trade Split”. The same chart on the right has a title: “The sunflower is the main traded crop by the group”. Do you feel the difference and how easier it is to understand that chart this way? We hope so.

These are the 5 lessons that we wanted to share from a presentation that really achieved its goal. Of course, they are just a fraction of all other things you must do to make your presentation successful. Either way, we advise you to use them next time you prepare your talk. Even more, we are confident that if you apply them, they will help you deliver a talk that’s on a completely different level.

Originally published at 356labs.com on December 20, 2018.


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