Liberation from Decks: How to go from 62 slides to 3.


A client of ours called Linda had a liberating experience last year. Linda worked at SAB Miller before the acquisition and was a Senior Global Brand Marketing Executive.

She was about to fly to Miami to pitch for a major contract when we spoke with her. Linda was an engaging, experienced and energetic woman who had charm in abundance and knew her brand backwards.

The big hitch was that she turned up for rehearsals with a 62 page deck. It doesn’t really matter if Steve Jobs and Walt Disney put your deck together, 62 pages present some problems for pitching with impact. The main one being that people buy people, not decks. A bad deck could definitely lose you a pitch, but a good one is unlikely to win it for you – it still takes a human ‘performance’ to win.

When asked “if you left your deck in the taxi, would you still back yourself to win the pitch?

Absolutely” she said.

At that moment, Linda redirected her thinking under her own steam. She decided to go for pluck and daring, above routine and comfort. She settled on a 3 page deck with mission critical information only. She took 4 copies and decided to leave them in her bag and only get them out if she was asked to (she wasn’t). Linda backed herself. Ultimately, moving from 62 slides to 3 comes down to being curious about ‘doing things differently’.

This is a true story: one that rewarded non-conformity. Also, it’s a story that I’m happy to report had a happy ending.

Our thoughts on decks:

  • People buy people, not decks
  • More information is not better
  • Decks aren’t memorable
  • Just because ‘everyone does it’ doesn’t mean it’s right