Coté Memo #032: when to have an executive summary

Title: Coté Memo #032: when to have an executive summary


Hello again, welcome to #32. Today we have 40 subscribers, so we’re +1. I’d love to hear what you like, dislike, your feedback, etc.: (If you’re reading this on the web, you should subscribe to get the daily email.)

See past newsletters in the archives, and, as always, see things as they come at and @cote.


Tech & Work World

Quick Hits

When to use an executive summary slide

I don’t like “agenda” and “exec summary” slides. There are many reasons, some of them: it’s takes up a slide, just wait and you’ll find out, meetings often never leave that slide. White-collar folks love using them though, so I’ve learned most of the tactics and tricks, of course, as should you. But, when you can choose to, ditch them.

Sidebar: I recall that in one critical cloud meeting at Dell filled with high-ranking brass and such we didn’t moved past the cover slide for half the meeting. We didn’t even get to the executive summary. That’s the kind of thing you deal with in PowerPoint, room full of executive land. It turned out to be a good meeting, but you know, be ready to spend weeks on slides and then not really use them.

Anyhow. I was doing some follow-on bullet-proofing/polishing of a client’s presentation today and wrote this on when to use “executive summaries” in presentations intended for analysts:

For something like [the topic being discussed in the presentation], it’s good to have an “executive summary” slide as a defensive move. Right away if I’m an analyst I’m going to ask a bunch of “have you considered this? how about this?” type questions which you’ll probably answer in the presentation. In the first slide put up an executive summary whose first effect is to demonstrate the breadth of what you have and whose second effect is to make sure the analyst shuts up long enough so you can tell the story. (Normally I don’t like executive summaries, but with the introduction of a new thing where the audience thinks they’re much smarter than you, they’re good.)

That’s a good tip beyond analysts as well if you feel like you’ll be in a similarly combative situation with your, you know, “deck.”

If you like “tips on dealing with analysts,” check out the recording of the talk on that topic I gave at HeavyBit at the beginning of this year. (It was a reprise of a 2008 talk I did, long ago.) It’s targeted at startups, but the majority of it applies to companies of all sizes.

Fun & IRL

Making Sangria

Not really much. Gotta stop typing so I can get to it.

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