With the private equity AGM world having moved to virtual screenings through most of 2020 and at least the first half of 2021, classic presentations have needed a fixer-upper. At in-person meetings when guests sit in the midst of a 3D world, they look at a stage decorated with branding material, at presenters whose intonation may fluctuate in response to audience nods, and at floor-to-ceiling-sized power point slides in which even tiny footnotes are clear. Little distractions around the room provide some welcome mental breathers – spotting someone with whom they wish to chat at a break or a server holding the promise of a hot cup of coffee.
In contrast, at virtual meetings, speakers’ images are encapsulated in small head shots. Separated from audience reactions to their comments, presentations are often monotone. The resolution of power point slides shrunken to fit a partial lap top screen are often somewhat illegible. Diversions at home are significantly different than those that occur in ballrooms: A baby in another room may be crying, a puppy may be begging for attention, or a gardener may be mowing the lawn. And the viewer is well aware that no one will be notice if she or he walks away for a bit.
For years, we at Voices & Visions Productions have been producing high energy videos that our PE clients screen at their AGMs. Over this past year, those videos have been the source of heightened fanfare not only from our clients, but directly from some of their guests as well. Many of the videos focus on portfolio company holdings or successful sales. Generally three to five minutes in length, a typical video of this nature contains short sound bytes from one or more management team members and/or PE deal team members to tell the story of a company’s nature and value creation. Using visuals newly captured on camera (as possible) or provided from the marketing assets of the company together with original motion graphics and animations, the videos bring viewers into the heart of a company, and, significantly, provide visual and auditory relief during a virtual meeting. In other instances, we work with clients to tell their LPs different types of narratives, such as stories about ESG initiatives, staff, LTM realizations, anniversary milestones, etc. The messaging is always customized.
Certainly, the pandemic has brought challenges to shooting these videos, but adaptation is at the heart of any business that has lived in the tech world for decades. With solutions that range from local video crews directed through virtual set-ups by our staff to home recording kits that improve sound, video and lighting, the video supplements to virtual meetings have been a big hit. Clients that poll audience members have confirmed that the videos receive the highest rating of all the meeting components. In fact, that response mirrors surveys from past in-person AGMs, though if electronic surveys could talk, they would probably provide a particularly enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Going forward, it is anticipated that the PE world will return to either solely in-person AGMS or a hybrid version that is partially in-person and partially virtual. In either event, unquestionably, the audience appetite for video interludes has become more insatiable. Having specialized in video storytelling for decades, we look forward to working with clients to create an ever-evolving range of interesting narratives.