Get in, get to the point, get out: First meeting deck tips and tricks
The First Meeting Deck (FMD) is a valuable sales tool and could make or break the first impression you leave with your customer. Here’s how to get it right first time.
- 7th June
FMD – a definition
A First Meeting Deck is devoted to connecting with the challenges your audience is facing, and clearly demonstrating how you can help to overcome them. The goal is to leave your audience with a unified, positive first impression – that your business is the perfect fit, is aligned with their needs, and that you as the presenter are the ideal person to be in contact with.
Based on what we see, FMDs are often 10-15 slides (sometimes more). In a world of behemoth corporate decks which can rack up triple-digit slide counts, that might seem blessedly short, but we genuinely believe that even 10 slides is pushing it. You want something that’s punchy, meaningful, and, most importantly, quickly communicates your value.
For this, we think 8-10 slides is all you need. It gives you enough breathing room to explain your concept and go beyond a surface-level overview, but it doesn’t drag on too long, leaving you time to have a meaningful conversation with your customer. After all, you never want to be in a situation where you need to pick between getting through your deck and answering an unexpected question.
So where should you start?
Knowing your audience
A good FMD is always targeted specifically to its audience. Are you talking to a CEO, an IT manager, or a different persona entirely? Each will have different motives for meeting with you and will immediately switch off if you start droning on about details that aren’t relevant to them.
Nobody wants their time wasted – meet them where they’re at, tell them what they need to hear, and don’t be afraid to add some personal touches. A little bit of humour can go a long way, not just in building your relationship to a customer, but also helping to convey what you’re all about.
But, of course, there’s a difference between having a laugh as part of the meeting and trying to practice your stand-up routine in front of a major decision maker. You want to show that you’re friendly and approachable, not that your brand is a laughing matter – if you’re worried about whether something will land, it’s usually best to leave it out.
You also need to consider how you want your audience to feel – ideally, you’ll get a mix of different positive outlooks, but it helps to focus on a single message that you want to communicate. Should they be impressed by the power of your product, intrigued to learn more about your services, or confident in their first impression that you’re the right fit for them?
Building the perfect deck
When it comes to building your FMD, focus on 4 key elements – the problem your audience faces, how it’s impacting them, your solution, and the benefits you offer. That’s really all you need to cover, and done well, it will meet everything your audience is looking for.
If you need to, prepare some FMD variants in advance that address commonplace challenges your customers are facing. This means you can pick and choose between slides ahead of your meeting to ensure your slides are relevant to the customer’s business, without having to start from scratch every time.
Of course, just because the structure is simple, it doesn’t mean getting there is easy. A concise approach needs to be paired with striking visuals to work. That doesn’t just mean an immaculately designed, visually impressive deck (although that certainly helps) but also thinking about how slides will work in the moment, although the builds and transitions are just as important.
We see a lot of decks that fall into the trap of infodumping onto slides to stop anything being missed, but this only ends up being to the FMD’s detriment. Visually, it turns slides into walls of text, blocking them from being interesting or attention grabbing. At the same time, it undermines the audience’s impression of you as a presenter – creating the impression that you’re not actually that knowledgeable, and are banking on slideware to deliver the information and answer their questions.
If you need a reminder of what to cover, don’t be afraid to rely on your own speaker notes – after all, presenting details that aren’t on the slide is what gets people paying attention to what you’re saying.
With that in mind, how should you approach the content?
• Ensure you’re connecting with a genuine challenge and understand its impacts on your customer’s business.
• Get personal – it’s between you and your audience. Building a personal connection will make sure they remember you, and, by extension, your business.
• Break down your information, whether that’s visualising data points, or explaining how your offering works in bitesize chunks.
• If you offer a demonstration, make it short, easy to follow, and built around the benefits you offer.
• Go overboard with detail – your audience are intelligent people, so you don’t need to spell everything out for them.
• Focus only on your business. After all, you’re there to demonstrate what you can do for the customer you’re speaking to, so make sure you make the meeting about them.
• Rely on best guesses over research – we’ve seen a few FMDs in our time that use assumptions rather than actual research, and, as a result, give the impression that the presenter doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.
If this is breaking new ground for your sales pitch, or you’d just like a second pair of eyes on your deck, reach out to us – we’ve worked on FMDs for a huge range of customers, doing everything from tidying existing decks to starting from scratch to create a presentation that gets to the heart of a business. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with us.
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