The CEO on the conference call: Stick to your style

Every CEO has a different style when it comes to handling investor conference calls (for example, an annual earnings report).

The styles lie on a spectrum.

On the one end, you’ve got a Jamie Dimon style, which is where the CEO will just say two or three sentences about the big picture and then throw it over to the CFO to go into the details.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where you have a CEO who will go into a great level of detail, and may actually deliver large portions of the report himself, and may talk about revenue numbers and distribution changes, and may mention customer names during the call.

Then there are CEOs who move back and forth, even in their opening statements. Their opening statement might begin with big picture stuff, but then it might transition to more detailed stuff, mentioning the earnings numbers, etc.

You often hear the more detailed approach at companies that have recently begun doing conference calls.

Every CEO has his or her different style, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Keep in mind that the listeners on the conference call are often just listening to see what is the style of this particular CEO.

Then they’ll ask themselves questions. For example, if they hear a CEO who’s big picture, they’ll be looking to see, does this company have a deep bench?

If, on the other hand, the CEO is going into a great level of detail, they’re going to be wondering, “Okay, is there evidence that the CEO is delegating things, or every time there’s a problem, does somebody run into the CEO’s office?”

Almost every style is going to kick off some questions in the listeners’ brains. The key is not to look for a perfect style, because there isn’t a perfect style. The key is to know or to anticipate what kinds of questions your style might be kicking off in the brains of the people listening on the other end of the call.

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