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Media and Crisis Management

Communications Lessons From the Krispy Kreme IPO – Part I

Posted on: July 29th, 2012

Presentations: Communications Lessons From the Krispy Kreme IPO – Part IIPO

Okay, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation tanked, faced an SEC investigation plus lawsuits by investors and employees and threw out its CEO. Nevertheless, the company’s preparation for going public in 2000 still provides valuable lessons for how to prepare for an IPO road show.

Here is how the CEO prepared for the road show with the assistance of countless colleagues, IPO bankers, and a some help from me.

The Vision – Your mission is twofold: 1) coherently convey your company’s business and financial history, and 2) instill confidence in top management. Daringly, we used a laptop computer. Laptop presentations are infrequent on the road show circuit – only about 1 in 10. Most chief executives prefer printed hand-held flipcharts. Since substance is critical and most audiences one-on-one, the charts are easy to use. However, in our case, the CEO wanted more excitement about the company than could be communicated on cardboard. So he deployed two powerful laptops – one for backup – using Microsoft PowerPoint slides and custom-prepared CDROM videos. The technology made the process more nerve-wracking, laborious (computer scanning and rendering of photos and videos), and expensive (professional editing of video and transfer to CDROM), but it was enthusiastically received.

Macro Preparation – All reasonably relevant information, photographs, and videos were collected into an initially ungainly mass. This potpourri was streamlined into the typical welcome, overview, corporate history, operating processes, financial synopsis, and conclusion.

Micro Preparation – We culled and refined that data to meet three primary criteria: 1) Is this what the audience wants/needs to hear? 2) Can it be presented in about 25 minutes with 15 to 20 minutes left for questions? 3) Critically – can the CEO convey it with confidence without being preoccupied with running the laptop? This last criterion was absolute. Since about 45% of an outsider’s opinion of a company is based on the perception of the CEO, he must radiate confidence. We took the following steps to give him maximum comfort.

Verbatim Script Preparation – Although the CEO would ultimately “talk” the presentation and not read it, we wrote out every word initially to provide precision of thought.

Script Formatting – Following TV news style, we placed the narration on the right side of the page with the corresponding visual on the left side. We drew a horizontal line across the entire page at each point that Scott needed to click the mouse to advance the PowerPoint slide. At a glance he could on the page where he was reading and when he needed to click.

Initial walk-through – Accompanied by advisors, the CEO practiced the presentation. Innumerable adjustments were made. Nevertheless, on a subliminal level, he was grooving the presentation.

Practical rehearsal – the CEO took the laptop home with him so that he could get comfortable with the computer, mouse, and content.

Finalize the script – Since constant changing undercuts confidence, we made every effort to stop making major alterations. The CEO continued rehearsing while sitting at a conference table while the all of us nipped and tucked.

Match computer to script – We wrote the PowerPoint slides to match the script where possible. That made it easier for the CEO to deliver his message by simply looking at the computer screen rather than the script – a skill that improved with repetition.

Duplicate the presentation environment – Harvey McKay says “perfect practice makes perfect.” To that end we duplicated the same physical setup that the CEO would encounter in his first formal presentation. We copied the room layout and the position of the podium and laptop projector screen.

Coaching – The CEO and I worked alone at this point on body language, verbal emphasis, gestures, adlibbing, storytelling, laptop errors, etc. (Usually I avoid teaching cosmetics since they distract speakers from content and create artificial mannerisms. However, once the speaker is as fluent with his message as the CEO was, then cosmetics add flourishes.)

Practice, practice, practice – the CEO cleared the last two days of his schedule for nothing but rehearsal in his mock setting. He walked through it so often that he said it dreamed about it.

And THAT is how we prepared for the IPO road show.

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