Building your narrative: How to Tell Your Story in Just 15 Slide Topics is a talk which I have been presenting for more than 15 years now at various conferences including BIO International. While the methodology remains intact, the landscape has changed quite a bit. With more companies than ever in our field innovating in health and science, the need to differentiate your story, creating an investable, sustainable company is front and center. Our industry’s ability to communicate science from a business-to-business audience to a business-to-consumer audience remains an immediate industry need. The Biotechnology Industry Organization understands this need and has been leading in this area for more than a decade now. Here is a summary of our recommendations from BIO International 2023; you also may want to check out this video on corporate presentation best practices.
Targeting the Right Investors/Partners
Peter Lynch, a well-known American investor and author, is known for his quote, “Invest in what you know.” With strategic investors and venture/equity, teams will be particularly interested in areas in which they know. Have they invested in your therapeutic or technology area? Are they active in your space? The chances of moving the needle will more quickly depend on how active and deep your prospects are in your specific area. Whether your company is private or public, the challenge of teaching and educating is key. Bake into your plan the appropriate time to get to your goal and timeline.
SWOT Analysis/Building of Messaging Platform
To begin to develop your story line and narrative, you should develop a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This will allow you to begin to think strategically about how to tell your story in a more compelling way. With the development of a messaging platform, you will begin to identify terminology and vocabulary for your business that enables you to better articulate your story succinctly and consistently.
- Title Slide. Keep it simple. In addition to including full identification of yourself and the presentation itself, use the time that this slide is displayed to speak directly to the audience and convey that you understand what they want to know, and what you expect to share with them. Make eye contact around the room.
- #1: Overview. List 4 to 5 key bullets about your company so that your audience knows what to expect from this presentation, and why you are speaking with them. What key takeaways can they expect from you? You want to show that you understand your audience’s needs and interests. Stick to your messages; don’t overwhelm with too much information and set up the problem and the solution that you will share. You can end this slide with an “ask.”
- #2 Disclaimer. Include a disclaimer if your regulatory and legal departments recommend it. Forward-looking statements will be needed for public companies.
- #3: The Problem. In layman’s terms, what clinical, research, or drug development problem are you trying to solve? Be specific and, if possible, cast it in terms of its impact on patients. An infographic can be helpful; use basic facts and salient points from research or KOLs.
- #4: The Solution. How will your company contribute to solving the problem? Besides describing your products and services, indicate their compelling benefits and what distinguishes them. What are the barriers to entry in solving this problem, and how are you addressing them? Identify both opportunities and threats to your approach (this is your mini-SWOT analysis). Show data, if you can, and add any available third-party validation, such as KOL voices and research. Can your products/services be combined with those of another company for synergistic effect?
- #5: The Market. Be clear in defining the market: size, growth potential, geographic variables, market share of key players, significant upcoming patent expirations, and where you expect to fit into this. Share pricing issues, and the present and anticipated reimbursement landscape relative to private and public payors. Define your niche relative to unmet patient needs, and where you may fit into current clinical guidelines. Articulate other key players in the market, patient populations, and how you would seek reimbursement across all market segments.
- #6: Competitive Positioning. What differentiation will protect your product from commoditization? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of competitors compared to your product/service? Ideally, highlight the one most compelling way your product can compete successfully, and why your audience should be interested.
- #7: Team. Of course, share the experience and pedigree of your leaders but more importantly convey your company culture to show why your company is investable. It is appropriate to tell a story here. Sometimes the team’s prior experience is the biggest selling point, while for other companies it may be the boldness of entrepreneurship. Small, emerging companies may benefit from emphasizing their Board of Directors, Advisory Boards, and scientific advisors. If your team’s background includes impressive industry players, include those companies’ logos on this slide.
Your Products: Clinical Status and Value Proposition
- #8: Clinical development and commercialization. Now it’s time to introduce your actual pipeline. An effective way to showcase all your products, from pre-clinical compounds to marketed drugs, is via an overview bar chart that lists compounds on the Y-axis, with a bar indicating each one’s developmental progress along the X-axis. List indication(s) for each product, discuss any synergies or complementarities you expect among them, and share your goals for each. Share the timing of expected clinical and regulatory milestones, and (if relevant) ownership and distribution rights. Note that for pre-clinical compounds, whether you opt to include them in your pipeline may depend on their relative importance as well as possible competitive issues.
- #9: Reasons to Believe. This is a key slide; remember that the whole point of your presentation is to persuade your audience of the investability, clinical value, and commercial potential of your company. You may need multiple slides at this juncture to cover your data adequately: pre-clinical, proof-of-concept, exploratory and clinical. Include a schematic of your study design with results to date, and also describe any future planned studies. Because these slides may be busy, use graphic elements to draw the reader’s eye to one clear, straightforward statement about what the data mean, and why they matter. In your discussion, demonstrate that you understand how to bring the product through development and regulatory channels into commercialization. If you expect to market the product outside the United States, demonstrate your understanding of regulatory processes in those other parts of the world. Consider using a QR code to link to more in-depth data on your website.
- #10: Regulatory Strategy. Here you discuss regulatory matters in more detail. Present regulatory milestones and highlights and describe anything special that pertains to your products and how that might affect their timing: BLA or NDA, SPA, orphan status, fast track review, pediatric voucher, etc. A key point: don’t be too specific about the timing of milestones — leave yourself room for adjustment without upsetting investor expectations. Present timing in half-year increments until you are so close that you are certain of an actual month.
- #11: Manufacturing Strategy. There may be instances in which manufacturing may not bring much to the discussion – for example, if your programs are still very pre-clinical – but the closer you are to commercialization, or if you are in cell or gene therapy, it can be quite important. Having a well-defined plan in place tells your audience that you can keep moving towards commercialization. You may need to discuss both manufacturing for product supply during clinical trials as well as how you will scale up for commercialization. It is smart to indicate your team’s experience dealing with regulators with respect to cGMP manufacturing.
- #12: Commercial Strategy. For marketed products and ones within 12 months of launch, describe your commercialization plans. Will you out-license your sales operations or keep them in-house? Describe any domestic or international commercialization partners and your general financial arrangements with them. What are your expectations for product marketing, detailing and PR; how will you work with patient advocacy groups and professional medical societies? How will you leverage KOLs? What are your medical communications and publication strategies?
Corporate Position and Wrap-Up
- #13: Financial Position. Although every company needs to provide a summary of its financials, what to include depends on whether your company is public or private. Public companies should provide a summary financial statement for the most recent quarterly reporting together with guidance on capital structure, shares outstanding, insider holdings, and market capital. Private firms should share their total capital raised to date and the names of principal investors; they may also benefit from describing how the current raise will be used in advancing development programs.
- #14: Upcoming Milestones. Tell your audience what they can expect of your company, and when. Include clinical and regulatory milestones, commercial and manufacturing expectations, and potential transactions that will affect your operations and management. Let your audience clearly understand what will drive your company over the next 12-24 months.
- #15: Investment Highlights. As the wrap-up, this is your most important slide. These messages are what your audience will remember. Restate your investment highlights and key points, reiterate why your products/services are important, and reinforce why your company is unique. In other words, answer the question: “why you should invest in my company.” Provide a contact name, email address, and website – and conclude with a call-to-action.
Over many years, our clients have benefited from shaping their presentations’ content to this structure to make their cases clearly and forcefully to any audiences – external and internal. Keep it simple, and it will be memorable.
LaVoieHealthScience offers integrated communications in life sciences, with specializations in strategy consulting, investor relations and corporate communications, and public relations and marketing. Please contact us today to see if we can help. As a leading health and sciences communications firm, we are positioned to assist you in advancing your strategy.