This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

I made my way back up the aisle of an airplane last week and caught a glance of a laptop screen with an all-too-familiar display: a presentation slide with about 20 logos on it. Ah yes, the picture that’s worth 1000 words, meant to convey, “We work with organizations like yours, or organizations that should impress you, or both.” I assumed it was part of a pitch deck and immediately wondered how far into the deck this slide found itself.

Do you know where your variation of this slide appears in your decks? Do you know where it should appear? Hint: The answer is not, “Early on.”

“But wait!” you say, “We have to create context. We have to build our credibility. We have to be responsive to their request to tell them about us!”

All true. Only not up front. And not nearly in as many slides as you usually dedicate.

Early on should be all about them, not all about you. That’s because everyone’s favorite subject is … not you. Besides, if you’re pitching, you’ve presumably passed the screening process and moved into the selection stage, so stop leading with your qualifications. Turn the conversation to them. Be open, honest, curious, passionate. Give them an experience of you, not a regurgitation of your expertise.

“But wait!” you say, “What if this isn’t a pitch, but one of our first interactions? They need some background. They need to know who we are. We need to tell them why we’re worth they’re time!” To which I say all true. Only not up front. And almost certainly not with a deck, unless you treat it as a leave-behind.

I believe my exact words in my passionate plea during a workshop a few weeks ago were, “Scrap the freakin’ deck.” If that seems too extreme, then at least make some serious modifications to get your focus where it should be.

Make It Real

This week, open the PowerPoint deck you used in your last oral proposal, put yourself in your clients’ shoes, and be a hard grader on your first five slides. What edits do you see to make? By when will you make them?

Learn More

Watch Trust Tip #12 – Check Your Ego at the Door, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or refresh yourself on a different way to “handle objections” in Chapter 14 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).