Pre-Meeting Deck - streamline your credentials

How can you excite your reader with your pre-meeting deck? Try this: think of your presentation as the New York Times. (I know! It feels like delusions of grandeur, but it's mostly about structure).

One difference between US and UK newspapers is the structure. The first time I read the NYT for real I was surprised to find the front page stories were often continued on later pages, where there would also be more articles on the same subject. This wasn’t so common in British papers.

We’re going to use this idea.

The pre-meeting deck is going to be like the front page of the NY Times. It’ll have all the important info, but show where more detail can be found. In just three, maybe four, slides.

Say you’re an AI development house pitching an agriculture client. The temptation is to start with information about your company, show them what your solution can do and end with some return on investment numbers and glamorous case studies.

This is hard work for your reader. They’re ploughing through your company blah and wondering where they come in. While you’re telling them about AI systems for cannabis farms in California, they’re thinking; but I grow sugar beet in Britain. How does your AI work for me?

The upshot is a disenchanted reader. They’re underwhelmed because you’re not talking either about them or to them. But you only had a few slides and you had to try and get as much in as possible. It’s hard.

To solve this, try turning round your content and thinking New York Times:

1. Start with your prospect
2. Show how your solution works
3. End with your company
4. Show there’s more

The New York Times’s structure is a classic example of signposting; giving your reader clear direction, in this case to more information. It allows the Times to get more stories on the front page and reassure the reader that there’s further comment elsewhere in the paper. This can be a useful tool for presentations that will be read in advance of a new business meeting.

If you want to try this out, send Kate your pre-meeting presentation and she’ll give you some pointers.


For help working out what your client wants, try The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick –