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09/03/2012

Presenting Your Research: Secrets of Effective Conference Calls


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Some analysts mistakenly think that once they're finished researching and writing an investment research report their work is done. Not so.

The best analysts recognize they must "sell" their conclusions to a number of key audiences. They understand that a key component of their job is to convince others that their research is balanced and their recommendations are reliable.

Take conference calls, for example. They may seem to be informal ways to update clients and colleagues on what you've been doing, but they should not be treated casually. Conference calls help decision makers understand the quality of your work and how you contribute to the bottom line.

To make sure you enhance your professional reputation—in addition to your prospects for raises and promotions—follow these tips while on conference calls to help position you as a smart analyst whose work demands attention.

SHOW UP ON TIME

We're all busy these days, so be sure to be punctual. In many business situations, joining a conference call late is bad form. It might earn you a reputation for being disorganized, or even worse, indifferent to the needs of your clients and colleagues.

OPEN WITH BOTTOM LINE ON TOP

Create a broad-stroke outline of your findings. When you're asked to report on the conference call, start with your bottom line on top (B.L.O.T.). B.L.O.T. is how people in our industry want critical information. Tell your audience what you're recommending and how you're going to defend your conclusions. For example, "XYZ company is a ‘buy’: They're gaining market share, they have an innovative plan to protect customer privacy, and their leadership understands global industry trends."


Mach Creative


PRACTICE CONFERENCE CALL ETIQUETTE

Putting your call on hold may subject everyone else on the call to unbearable elevator music. Also, resist the urge to tidy up the paper piles on your desk. If you do, you may cause the connection to reverberate with your shuffles, tosses, and staples. And if you use the mute button, remember to "un-mute" when someone asks you a question.

PREPARE FOR Q&A IN ADVANCE

If your report is solid and thought-provoking, you're bound to receive questions on the call. Be prepared. One trick is to write down every conceivable question you can think of before the call. Then, write down how you're going to answer every question. Remember: you're the expert. What's obvious to you may not be obvious to your audience. Keep your outline and notes in front of you. And, because you've already thought through every possible question, you're much more likely to show clients and colleagues that you're a strong communicator as well as a smart analyst.

SLOW DOWN

Today's organizations are diverse, so are today's conference calls. You're likely to have multiple functions, generations, organizations, locations, cultures, and languages on any call. Don't speed through your report, rattling through key points, revealing statistics and ground-breaking insights. Give your audience enough time to hear and process what you're saying. Use pauses when you're making key points.

Even though conference calls are part of our everyday work life, don't take them lightly. They are an important forum for how you present your report and yourself.

–Susan Mach

Susan Mach, PhD, is a communication coach, trainer, and strategist. She teaches management communication part time at major NYC-area business schools, and investment research report writing at NYSSA.

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