How Can You Effectively Communicate With Shareholders During a Crisis?

How Can You Effectively Communicate With Shareholders During a Crisis?

In times of crisis, effective communication with shareholders is paramount. We've gathered insights from CEOs and Founders, distilling their wisdom into nineteen critical pieces of advice. From understanding and communicating your crisis strategy to telling a clear and honest story, discover the key strategies for maintaining shareholder trust when it matters most.

  • Understand and Communicate Crisis Strategy
  • Be Transparent, Timely, and Consistent
  • Communicate Honestly and Outline Steps Taken
  • Remember Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability
  • Maintain Open Communication
  • Provide Clear Action Plan and Updates
  • Prioritize Transparency and Honesty
  • Show Commitment Through Emotion
  • Communicate with Empathy and Unity
  • Address Crises Head-On
  • Manage Expectations and Keep Consistent Messaging
  • Present Actionable Solutions to Shareholders
  • Embrace Masterful Communication Skills
  • Balance Bad News with Positive Aspects
  • Be Precise with Financial Figures
  • Build Trust with Regular Transparency
  • Proactive Transparency Retains Investor Trust
  • Proactive Communication Demonstrates Leadership
  • Tell a Clear and Honest Story

Understand and Communicate Crisis Strategy

When difficulties arise and crises loom, my most actionable piece of advice is to make sure that a leader, a. understands what's happening and is able to communicate that understanding to the stakeholders, and then, b. calmly lays out strategies for moving forward. Most important is caretaking the safety and well-being of the people on your teams.

LB Adams
LB AdamsCEO, Practical Dramatics

Be Transparent, Timely, and Consistent

To communicate effectively with shareholders during a crisis situation, you need to be transparent, timely, and consistent. It's crucial to provide clear, honest, and unbiased information and updates about the situation, including the nature of the crisis, its impact on the organization, and the steps being taken to address it. When presenting this information, use terminology that is familiar to your audience. Using industry-specific language may not help stakeholders understand your message.

Consider using the most appropriate presentation format and language depending on your audience, and the information provided. You can use a PowerPoint presentation, an analysis report, or a combination of both to illustrate how previous similar incidents have affected similar organizations. You may also use graphs to make the information more understandable. Depending on your audience, you may use multiple channels to ensure the message reaches all shareholders promptly, such as emails and in-person and virtual meetings.

Denida Grow
Denida GrowManaging Partner - Protection and Intelligence Solutions, LeMareschal LLC

Communicate Honestly and Outline Steps Taken

In a crisis, clear and honest communication with shareholders is paramount. Don't sugarcoat it. Be upfront about the situation, even if the news is tough. Acknowledge the challenges, but also outline the steps we're taking to address them. Shareholders appreciate transparency and seeing a plan, even if the future is uncertain. It builds trust and shows we're taking charge.

Scott Gabdullin
Scott GabdullinCEO and Founder, Learo

Remember Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability

For leaders, communicating in a crisis means setting ego and emotions aside and focusing on three key things: being honest, coming clean, and acknowledging the mistakes that led to the crisis; committing to transparency in sharing how you plan to turn things around; and holding yourself accountable for repairing the damage and following through with the actions you plan to put in place to ensure the crisis doesn't happen again.

Abenaa Hayes
Abenaa HayesFounder & CEO, Elysee Consulting

Maintain Open Communication

Business leaders must maintain a delicate balance to effectively communicate with shareholders during a crisis. It's important to remain as transparent as possible, while not adding chaos to the situation. I would recommend keeping lines of communication open, designating a trusted point of contact, and frequently updating shareholders on how the crisis is being resolved.

Terrence Hight, Jr.
Terrence Hight, Jr.CEO, Hight Health

Provide Clear Action Plan and Updates

In a crisis, transparent communication with shareholders is not just essential—it's critical. My top piece of advice is not only to openly communicate the issue at hand but also to provide a clear, actionable game plan for resolution. It's important to outline the steps you are taking, the expected timelines for these actions, and when the next update will happen to keep the shareholders informed. This approach ensures that shareholders are not just aware of the problem, but are also engaged with our proactive strategy to navigate through it. This continuous loop of feedback and updates is key to maintaining trust and support during challenging times.

Vivian Chen
Vivian ChenFounder & CEO, Rise

Prioritize Transparency and Honesty

One piece of advice I'd give for effectively communicating with shareholders during a crisis is to prioritize transparency and honesty.

During challenging times, shareholders value open and candid communication about the situation, its potential impact on the business, and the steps being taken to address it. Providing timely updates, even if the information is limited or uncertain, demonstrates accountability and fosters trust with shareholders.

Additionally, it's essential to convey a clear and coherent message that emphasizes the organization's commitment to overcoming the crisis and safeguarding shareholder interests.

I believe by maintaining transparency, addressing concerns proactively, and offering reassurance when appropriate, business leaders can navigate crises more effectively and preserve shareholder confidence in the long term.

Andre Oentoro
Andre OentoroFounder, Breadnbeyond

Show Commitment Through Emotion

Contrary to popular belief, during times of crisis, shareholders want to see that you are nervous.

Although your first instinct may be to remain calm and appear unfazed, shareholders don't want a stoic, disinterested, or nonchalant leader during times of crisis. This approach signals that you simply don't care about the problem, or that you are attempting to downplay the severity.

Instead, shareholders want to see that this issue evokes an emotional reaction, signaling that you are 100% committed to the mission. This approach also implicitly shows respect to the shareholders, acknowledging that they have properly appraised the situation and are not attempting to merely placate them.

Naturally, this doesn't mean you should become a nervous wreck and find yourself unable to function. But during times of crisis, showing emotion expresses a deep commitment to the organization, which shareholders will find more reassuring than not.

Oliver Savill
Oliver SavillCEO and Founder, AssessmentDay

Communicate with Empathy and Unity

During a time of crisis, when stressors are high and individuals feel pressured, it is important for business leaders to approach shareholder communication with empathy, focusing on people rather than just the outcome.

When you prioritize open and honest conversations, it is easy to reassure shareholders that their concerns are acknowledged and valued, while also building trust and understanding. This approach fosters a sense of unity and solidarity and demonstrates a commitment to navigate the crisis together with its stakeholders.

By demonstrating genuine care and concern, leaders can reassure shareholders that their well-being is a top priority, ultimately strengthening the relationship and instilling confidence in the organization's ability to navigate the crisis effectively.

Acknowledging the challenges and uncertainties faced by shareholders can go a long way in establishing a strong rapport and fostering a sense of community.

Yemisi Iyilade
Yemisi IyiladeSenior Consultant, YEMISIIYILADE.COM

Address Crises Head-On

During a crisis, prioritize complete transparency in your communication with shareholders. Don't try to downplay the situation or hide any information. A complete picture, even if negative, is crucial for building trust.

Be upfront and address the crisis head-on. In the initial communication, clearly explain the nature of the crisis and its potential impact on the company. Don't wait for information to be leaked or pieced together by the media.

Acknowledge mistakes and take ownership. If the crisis stems from company actions or decisions, be the first to admit fault. Shareholders appreciate leaders who are accountable and avoid finger-pointing.

Outline a clear plan for resolution. Don't just explain the problem; focus on how you're actively working to fix it. Provide a timeline for key steps and communicate any updates as the situation evolves.

Use clear and concise language. Avoid technical jargon or overly optimistic pronouncements. Stick to the facts and present the information in a way that is easy for shareholders to understand.

Be accessible and responsive. Make yourself available to answer questions from shareholders and address their concerns. This might involve hosting town hall meetings, Q&A sessions, or making yourself available for media interviews.

By following these steps, you can demonstrate honesty, leadership, and a commitment to resolving the crisis. This transparency will ultimately build trust with shareholders and position them to have confidence in the company's future.

Dr. Jamaal Johnston
Dr. Jamaal JohnstonLeadership and Executive Coach, Leadership Growth & Research Center

Manage Expectations and Keep Consistent Messaging

The one piece of advice I'd give for effectively communicating with shareholders during a crisis is to manage expectations. When dealing with a crisis, you want to get to a resolution as soon as possible, but things take time. In addition to reminding everyone of the company's core values, it is essential to keep expectations in check. Let professionals (if you can hire them) do their jobs. Keep messaging consistent. Reassure all involved. Do all the things. But, above them all, you have to effectively manage expectations.

Carrolee MooreFounder & CEO, CMC Marketing Company

Present Actionable Solutions to Shareholders

When challenges arise, organizational leaders should present shareholders with actionable solutions. Before entering these conversations, business leaders should brainstorm and select solutions to mitigate the problem. They should then be prepared to present options and considerations to solicit feedback from shareholders. It's important for shareholders to be both informed and involved.

Investors understand that the business landscape can be volatile; however, a strategic approach to crisis builds and maintains shareholder trust—this is why most venture capitalists don't just invest in ideas but in founders they believe will be proactive rather than reactive.

Shannon Ewan
Shannon EwanCEO, ICAgile

Embrace Masterful Communication Skills

During a crisis, shareholders need transparency on what has transpired and details on what they can expect that will potentially resolve the issue at hand. Crises are the Olympics of communication, so embrace your most masterful communication skills to be effective. Be clear, honest, and concise in the details; be confident in your team actively working the problem; and show you have proactive solutions you're currently working towards to resolve the issue responsibly, ethically, and of course, lawfully.

Marian Astor Hunt
Marian Astor HuntHigh Performance Coach, Mpowered

Balance Bad News with Positive Aspects

One piece of advice for business leaders during a crisis is to apply the bad-news, good-news policy strategically when communicating with shareholders. It's crucial to address negative developments, but it's equally important to balance them with positive aspects. However, instead of leading with the positive, start with the bad news. Because this demonstrates honesty and ensures that shareholders are fully aware of the challenges.

After delivering the bad news, transition to the good news. Highlight positive aspects, such as steps taken to address the crisis, potential opportunities for growth or improvement, or the resilience of the company in overcoming obstacles. This provides reassurance and helps maintain shareholder confidence.

Finally, always end on a positive note. Reinforce the good news and emphasize the company's long-term prospects and commitment to overcoming the crisis. By following this approach, business leaders can effectively navigate difficult situations while maintaining trust and credibility with shareholders.

Phil McParlane
Phil McParlaneFounder & CEO, 4DayWeekJobs

Be Precise with Financial Figures

Being precise with figures can substantially enhance your communication during a crisis. For instance, if your company faces a downturn due to market conditions, providing exact financial impacts, such as a projected 10-15% decrease in quarterly revenue, helps set clear expectations. Similarly, if a recovery plan is in place, sharing specific targets and timelines, like aiming for a return to pre-crisis levels within 18 months, can offer reassurance.

However, ensure that any figures shared are based on thorough analysis and are as accurate as possible to avoid misleading shareholders. This level of specificity not only demonstrates a command of the situation but also helps in building a realistic and trustworthy dialogue with your shareholders.

David Rubie-Todd
David Rubie-ToddCo-Founder & Marketing Director, Glide

Build Trust with Regular Transparency

Transparency is key.

In times of crisis, transparency becomes the bedrock of trust between business leaders and shareholders. As a leader, you must communicate freely about the issues the firm is facing. This entails delivering clear, accurate, and timely information regarding the nature of the problem, its impact on the business, and the measures being taken to manage risks.

Avoid sugar-coating or hiding bad information because shareholders value honesty and integrity. Setting up a regular communication schedule, such as weekly updates, will help shareholders stay informed and reassured that the company is taking aggressive steps to address the matter. Transparency not only builds trust, but it also shows the company's commitment to responsibility and ethical management.

Timothy Allen
Timothy AllenDirector, Oberheiden P.C.

Proactive Transparency Retains Investor Trust

My advice is to be proactive and transparent. Shareholders value early insights into potential issues as it demonstrates leadership and responsibility. At Parachute, we ensure that our communications outline both the nature of the crisis and the steps we are taking to address it.

It is essential to tailor the communication style to the severity of the crisis. We use a tiered communication approach where the magnitude of the issue dictates who within the organization speaks to the shareholders. For high-level crises, I take the lead, supported by relevant senior managers.

For example, during a significant data breach last year, we initiated immediate communication with our shareholders, detailing what happened, what was at risk, and what we were doing to mitigate the damage. We followed up with regular updates on our progress and any changes to our risk management strategies. As a result, we retained over 95% of our investor base, who commended our handling of the situation and our clear communication strategy.

Elmo Taddeo
Elmo TaddeoCEO, Parachute

Proactive Communication Demonstrates Leadership

As Director of Business Operations for Stallion Express, crisis management is part of my job description, particularly regarding keeping our shareholders in the loop. With over eight years of experience in logistics and customer support, I've learned that transparency, consistency, and integrity are essential during difficult times.

One of the most important things to remember is to be proactive. Don't wait until the crisis escalates to contact your shareholders. Communicating early shows leadership and accountability, which builds trust.

For example, during a significant shipping disruption last winter due to unseasonably cold weather, we notified our shareholders as soon as we knew the impact it could have on our operations. We continued to update them on our progress to reduce the effect, which helped maintain their trust in our operations.

Always ensure the information you share is correct, and don't promise things you don't know if you can deliver. It's better to tell the truth and plan to deal with the situation rather than make overly optimistic predictions that may not come to pass. This not only positions you as a credible leader but also safeguards your organization's credibility during a crisis.

Jen Seran
Jen SeranDirector of Operations, Stallion Express

Tell a Clear and Honest Story

Being truthful and telling your story clearly are essential when communicating with shareholders in difficult circumstances. Don't sugarcoat anything; honesty is valued by shareholders. Provide them with the facts, notwithstanding their lack of aesthetic appeal. Also, consistency is essential. Whether they're viewing a video update or reading an email, make sure everyone is getting the same message. In this manner, there are no misunderstandings or conflicting messages. Here, trust is crucial, so be true to your word and maintain open channels of communication.

Kartik Ahuja
Kartik AhujaDigital Marketer,

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