First, you need the right tools. Start with PowerPoint, as activist investors are serious people and don't play around with free business software. However, don't have the presentation professionally designed. Use stock templates, preferably from the 1990s, so that the "sizzle" doesn't take away from the "steak."
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Open your presentation with a solid inspirational quote; bonus points if it's from the company's original founder to invoke the nostalgia of the good old days when the company's stock wasn't in the tank.
As you write verbiage (and you need a lot of verbiage, the more the better), make proficient use of the following words and phrases:
- "unlocking value"
- "substantial value"
- "competitive advantage"
Early on, set up the company's problem by inspiring fear that without you, the company will end up as successful as the launch of healthcare.gov.
Next, increase the horror level with a historical stock-price chart, honing in on the stock's free fall. For extra emphasis, attempt to link key peaks and valleys to company actions — or inactions.
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Arrows. It's all about arrows. Use lots of them, in all directions. Nothing says "activist" quite like arrows.
Since most momentum investors can't do math (or don't much care to), spend many pages back to back on the numbers. Throw as many numbers on each page as possible and come up with some quirky name to show how disastrous the numbers are. For example, if you are focusing on accounts receivable, title the slide "A.R. Mageddon!"
Once the setup is complete, throw some people under the bus. Potential candidates include the current CEO, CFO, COO and board of directors.
** Important-whatever you do, DO NOT throw employees under the bus. You don't want to come off like the one-percenter that you are. **
Make excessive use of exclamation points.
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Now, it's time to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. If it's a consumer company, definitely pretend to be a customer of the company that you are tearing apart, irrespective of if you would ever actually consume their products.
Again, nod back to the original founders of the company and the way they used to do things when the company was performing better and the world was filled with sunshine and unicorns.
Use bridge graphs to show how all of your initiatives will add value to the stock price. It doesn't matter than nobody can decipher these graphs; they look impressive and should be used generously.
To add credibility, cite as many "industry experts" as possible. Give no credence as to when these "experts" were actually in the industry. If they are still alive, they are fair game. If they are no longer alive, use them in the inspirational quote context.
Highlight your dream team (aka, your friends who will take the place of the people you have previously thrown under the bus). Grab their photos from LinkedIn to add to your presentation, because who doesn't like pictures?
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Repeat key slides from the beginning of the presentation again at the end to show how serious you were about those points, with particular emphasis on the fact that the company WILL FAIL without your help.
Overall, the length of your presentation should correspond inversely to how certain you are about what you are saying. If you have no idea at all, definitely shoot for at least 100 pages.
Finally, to make the ultimate impact, give your presentation at a fancy industry conference.
That's it. Make a big fuss and lather, rinse and repeat.
* I'd like to give a shout-out to the Twitter user who inspired the idea for this article with his/her joke. I'd mention your handle, but I can't remember who it is!
Commentary by Carol Roth, a "recovering" investment banker (corporate finance), entrepreneur/small-business owner, investor and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." Follow her on Twitter @CarolJSRoth.