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Episode 154 February 12, 2019 | 27min

Click to Add Title: Making a Better Pitch Deck

Not all decks are created equal.

Show Notes

Less is More: There’s nothing cool or cutting-edge about a pitch deck. Business folk love them. They’re meant to convince the viewer of something. Some people have a talent for producing them, but most need a bit of guidance. Like them or not, pitch decks run the world— and making a good one may not be as straightforward as you think.

How do you make a purposeful, beautiful, even entertaining deck? Years of appealing to large clients has taught Paul and Rich a thing or two about creating a cogent presentation. In this episode, the two expound some of their knowledge: balancing words with images, the density of your information, understanding your audience and your message, and the power of great design.

Paul Ford You know, there’s a book a called The Perfect Thing by Steven Levy, it’s about the iPod and apparently while they were developing it, they brought to him, and it was too thick.

Rich Ziade Mm hmm.

PF And so the story is—who the hell knows? But the story is that he picks it up and dropped into an aquarium.

RZ Ok.

PF It was a working demo and bubbles came out. And he went, “There’s still air.”

RZ [Laughs boisterously] You know all the fish were dead in that aquarium? [Laughs]

PF Oh! Yeah. Well, and then there was—he called someone into to—

RZ Yeah.

PF—to [?] something again [music fades in, plays alone for 18 seconds, ramps down]. Rich, you know what I wanna talk about today? I wanna talk about decks. We’ve never talked about ‘em.

RZ Yes.

PF I mean it’s an uncool thing. Decks aren’t cool.

RZ They aren’t cool for the practitioners that are creating real stuff, right? Like [music fades out] the designers that design; the coders that code, the deck is bullshit, right? I mean—

PF Well, it’s not—it’s not a tool of great control like Illustrator or Sketch or any of those.

RZ And it is something that is viewed as a weapon for people that are trying to convince other people something.

PF Well, it’s corporate [Rich chuckling]—the deck is a corporate entity.

RZ Yeah, I mean, business people take great pride in their decks.

PF Well and this—so, you know, Amazon is famously deck free, you have to write a memo.

RZ Explain that.

PF You write a memo at Amazon and then you sit around the table and you read the memo and then you have the meeting. So the idea is you really have to organize your thoughts into a proper memo. [Yeah] And I’ll tell you—

[1:39]

RZ [Interrupts] And it’s not like a—like it could be five pages. There are people sitting there silently in the meeting.

PF As a writer, as a person who loves to write, and is good at writing, God that sounds attractive.

RZ You like this—you like this approach.

PF Every now and then I will do it for a client but I almost always, almost always, and now I’m very strategic about when I do it. It’s gotta be a very specific kind of person on the other side who really wants to read, I illustrate it a little bit but—

RZ It’s weird.

PF It’s very unusual.

RZ It’s kinda weird.

PF What people—the way that you communicate in our world is you make a couple slides. Ideally, you’re kinda drawing a little diagram and saying, “Here’s how it’s all gonna fit together,” and then [mm hmm] you break it out into bullets and say, “Here are the next steps.”

RZ Yes.

PF And that runs the world.

RZ It really runs the world, right?

PF Excel and PowerPoint and then you basically can get rid of everything else. Word for contracts.

RZ Word is the—I mean—

PF Yeah. Now, what do we do?

RZ I—I was deeply influenced by a blog . . . years ago and I’m pretty sure it’s gone but it’s probably sitting around somewhere on the internet.

PF [Interrupts] The title of your biography will be I Was Deeply Influenced by a Blog. [Rich laughs] Anyway, so you were deeply influenced by a web log.

[2:49]

RZ A web log.

PF Which web log? Do you remember?

RZ Yes. It was called Presentation Zen.

PF Oh! I remember Pre—there were a lot of zens. There was CSS Zen, Zen Guard—

RZ [Laughs] Guard too.

PF Everyone was big on zen, so Presentation Zen.

RZ Yes, and it was—essentially it actually broke the paradigm cuz I think PowerPoints—people had to get their heads around them, and I think they started to see them as like bigger level like DUPLO blocks of documents.

PF Well, then it basically—

RZ They were documents. Like you could actually, you’re like, you know, “I’m gonna send you the deck.” They weren’t for presenting. They were like actual documents.

PF [Crosstalks] And then they became deep and interactive. Consulting did this.

RZ Consulting loves the deck, right? I mean it sells the deck.

PF And then you get the table of contents that’s dynamically generated [exactly!] and special bullets.

RZ What Presentation Zen was talking about is that, “Are you presenting with this? If you’re really presenting with it, you need to shed a lot of the habits that come around document writing,” and one of the most profound tips they gave and I—I’m gonna toot my own horn here for a second [Paul makes a horn sound, two notes, ascending]: I—I am not the best artist or graphic artist or whatever but what I do know—

PF You’re not nowhere near the best, in fact.

RZ [Laughing] I’m nowhere near the best, in fact. I do know how to make a slide in a deck be complementary because I want you to listen to me.

PF Yeah, I’ve seen you do it. You’re good. You’re good and it’s actually—

[4:06]

RZ It’s a very big deal and I learned this from Presentation Zen and here’s the number one tip I would give anyone making a deck: if they have to read while you’re talking—

PF Disaster.

RZ—you lost them.

PF Do you know what I do ever—Have I ever told you my method for quickly getting a—getting a story together?

RZ No.

PF The thing to do: I walk around and I get the story right in my head. Like what kind a—what are the—and it’s like five minutes at that point. Like if you were to say, “Hey! Paul! What is the future of um, you know, print on demand?” Or just like something ridiculous, right? I’d be like, “Ok, well, let me think about that.” And then I get to the point where I go—five minutes where I can tell you. And that’s just all in my brain. Don’t write anything down. Then what I do is I just start telling myself the story and I look for illustrations and they can be really random.

RZ You’re not writing yet.

PF No, I never write.

RZ Ok.

PF I never write, don’t even have notes. I go and put full screen images into a deck, no words, no pictures, nothing.

RZ Interesting, interesting.

PF There’s a title slide, you know, I mean it’s not orthodox [ok] but pictures. And then what happens is I start to kind of expand the narrative and things sort of inspire me and I think about things [mm hmm]. What ends up is I walk into a room—now there will be couple slides of texts and—

RZ We glossed over a word here that I think is worth sharing and I think 90 percent of people who create decks and anybody who is in a white collar job is creating a damn deck, um don’t use the word or don’t think about narrative.

PF No! That’s right. [Like—] So—so I want people to be interested when they’re listening to me, right?

RZ Sure.

[5:47]

PF So what I do is I put that picture up and then I actually, like, by not having any notes, by not having anything available, I have to explain what’s there. And you repeat that times 20, times 30, for a 20-minute talk [yup] like [yup] and what happens is—and actually it’s more like 60 or 70, I’ll have 70 or 80 slides for a 20-minute talk and I’m having a conversation and sort of riffing on the images [yeah] and I’m comfortable enough I’ve—it’s not like this is some magic improv act. I know what I’m going to say. I roughly know what my point is. And it’s really easy! If you put up a picture of a big red dragon from Dungeons and Dragons [yeah] and you have a little joke to make, you’ll remember that joke when it comes up, you won’t forget it, [yeah, yeah] you don’t need the notes because it’s really like fundamental in your lizard brain.

RZ It’s also worth noting: you—you’re zipping along.

PF Yeah!

RZ You don’t really linger on a particular slide. I mean you just said 60 to 80—70 slides for 20 minutes. That’s a lot of movement, right?

PF This is the thought leader deck. This is not the how-your-software-platform-will-look [correct] which is ten slides.

RZ You’re telling a story!

PF I’m telling a story.

RZ You’re creating this animated experience.

PF It’s like a blog, it’s like Instagram. You’re just like, “And then this! And then, well, and clouds are gonna be a problem!”

RZ What—what context—like who is your audience for a deck that—that—like obviously not all decks are created equal—

PF For that, executive leadership, people at a conference [yeah], people who are like—sometimes I’ll get called in to like get a conversation kick started and—

RZ High altitude.

PF You know. And I like to—I love, you know, animated GIFs. I had one where I told people about the future of their industry and the last slide was just like, “Good luck at your job!” You know just—[yeah, yeah, yeah] and—and just the best thing that happens when you’re doing those is they stop in the middle because everyone’s talking already.

RZ Yes.

[7:29]

PF Like it’s actually not—I’m not trying—you know those guys they hire at the Bar Mitzvah to get the party started?

RZ Mm hmm, yeah.

PF That’s me but thought leader [yup] and then I think you should talk like what is the good presentation deck for the giant platform. And I’ll—I’ll set you up because most of the ones I saw before we started working together are 500 slides long.

RZ Bad. Well, first off, audience is obviously huge and—and if—if I’m giving you a presentation for 20 minutes, I’m—I’m extremely sensitive to the density of the information that’s being put in front of you [mm hmm]. It’s extremely important to understand your audience and also to keep them with you. And so I—I—I gave—I gave—I’m still one tip from Presentation Zen which is: don’t make them read. Like, the most common mistake people make with decks and Keynote added this feature a while back and I think PowerPoint has it too, is if there are six bullets—bullets are like, you know, a key weapon in a deck [mm hmm], right? When people go to a slide and all six bullets are there, immediately, and I start—I wanna go through them, right? But what the audience is gonna do is read ahead the six bullets, but I don’t want you to read ahead yet because that first bullet, I’m about to give you two sentences or three sentences—

PF You need to have that conversation. It’s a conversation. They can’t be part of it at that moment.

RZ It’s a narrative unfolding, right? [Yeah] And that’s really, really, really important. When you’re trying to share—

PF It’s not a textual medium.

RZ It’s not a textual medium.

PF It uses words but it’s not—

RZ Very few words. Very few words work best. I mean the most extreme example of this is the Apple keynote [that’s right]. It’s—it’s—and this goes way back. It would literally be—there would be a picture of an iPod and it would say, “30,000 songs.” [Laughing] That’s all it would have.

[9:16]

PF You know what else Apple loves? 45 percent.

RZ Yeah! [Laughing wheezily] They love their percentages.

PF And Apple—this is an Apple deck, let me read to you an Apple deck.

RZ Yeah.

PF 30,000 songs . . . click . . . 45 percent . . . click . . . two billion users . . . click [yeah, yeah, exactly!] and then a chart—and then a chart where the arrow goes up.

RZ Yeah.

PF And then they like that little joke, there’s always a little joke, and then they break for the demo.

RZ And then some indie acoustic artist will come on to close it out. Here’s the thing about those, I mean it’s a good example. Like, I mean, it is probably the gold standard for a presentation is the Apple keynote, right? [What’s cute—] They’ve diluted the shit out of it! It’s—like it goes on for 90 minutes now. It’s just too much.

PF You know what sucks about 90 minutes? It’s not good sales. Sales is fun.

RZ Sales is fun. You know what I do now? I—I like peek in for a minute. I’m like, “You know what? I’ll check The Verge later. They summarize it in like three paragraphs.”

PF I’ve done this joke 40,000 times on the podcast but you just, you go in and it’s just like [in monotone British accent], “And it’s made of alu-mini-mium.” And you’re just like, “Wow. [Rich laughs] For God’s sake!” That was the wonderful thing about Steve Jobs. He was a bad person who ruined families but [Rich laughs] the wonderful thing about Steve Jobs was that he loved it and it wasn’t—he didn’t actually sell you too much on the—the merits of like the physicality or anything [yeah]. He was just like, “Imagine! The world that you’re gonna be in when you’re using this dreamworld.”

RZ Yeah. Can I—I also imagine, by the way, that—I never knew the man or worked with him but—

PF Thank God.

[10:43]

RZ He—he left a lot of shit on the floor.

PF Oh yeah.

RZ They did come to him with 120 slides and he—it’s coming down to 28.

PF Oh he cut brutally. Brutally.

RZ There’s no doubt. And what you see now is just like, “Let’s run down the list” [music fades in, plays alone for six seconds, ramps down].

PF Rich, you know, before we get back to talking about [music fades out] decks. What if somebody wanted us to come and present to them about how to fix up their platform or product?

RZ Yeah, you know one of the things I say to people, often, when they’re like, “So what does Postlight do?” I say, “Well, you know what? We’re like—we’re like a consulting firm but the final deliverable is not a deck or a document, or a binder, it’s the actual product, it’s the actual thing. Um sometimes it’s a prototype, sometimes it’s a full-blown piece of software.”

PF That’s exactly right. That’s what we do. Sometimes we’ll come in and give you a presentation but it’s always to the ends of getting something into people’s hands that they can use and do things with.

RZ Right, yeah.

PF That’s what we’re about. So, it’s kinda funny we’re having this conversation—

RZ It is—it’s still a part of—it’s often part of how we communicate. It’s not the end game for us.

PF [Crosstalks] It’s communication! It’s not just us, it’s how the world communicates.

RZ It is.

PF We need to be there.

RZ It is. So, Postlight, if you wanna talk to us about anything around great platforms [music fades in] and apps and services that run on them, get in touch.

PF [email protected] [music plays alone for four seconds, ramps down].

[12:04]

RZ So a—a—another—another aspect of presentations [music fades out] that I think is worth sharing: if you—let’s say you are explaining a big strategy, or a platform, and there’s just complexities around it, and there’s nuances, and whatnot, if you go right into that after a deck—like slide two.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ That’s rough! That’s a rough—that’s like fast forwarding into the movie—you know, there’s only 20 minutes left and you go right into the scene where the family’s falling apart.

PF You gotta ease ‘em in.

RZ You gotta ease ‘em in. You gotta—you also gotta give ‘em that framing and that context.

PF You know what it is? And this is—this is probably just being more mature and further along. It’s not about proving that you’re smart, it’s about letting them become smarter. Like, the—the thing you do when you get up there and you show them that diagram, you want them to know that boy are you really a special boy, and what a good boy are you?

RZ [Chuckles] It sounds condescending—

PF It’s real, though.

RZ—and manipulative but—

PF But this is where you’ve been for the—you know this is—this is where I was, you know, like in my—in the last couple of decades. I wanted [absolutely] people to know that I was a really smart guy if you really thought about it [yeah]. What you wanna do instead is go, “Problems, we all have ‘em.”

RZ You know, you ever see the um like infomercials?

PF Mm hmm!

RZ It’s the like blender that makes a smoothie, let’s say [mm hmm] and there’s this early part of it where it’s in black and white [oh yeah] and the like juice is splashing everywhere [laughs].

PF Oh it’s terrible. It’s like a man—a man is literally smashing apples and oranges against his head [Rich laughing]. He’s like, “Whadda—whadda do I do?!?”

RZ It’s just like: here is the problem.

[13:36]

PF “Do you have this problem?”

RZ “Do you have this problem?” And it’s black and white and the person looks like they haven’t showered in awhile and she can’t make juice [laughs].

PF You know it is true and I don’t know if I ever—if I do this consciously or not but the earlier part of a deck should probably feel—it’s like a little bit Wizard of Oz [yeah] where it’s like all grey and they’re in Kansas and then there’s this one point where you just jam it—like when that diagram shows up that shows you the future platform, that [yeah] should feel like you just got to the land of Oz like just so thrilling. There’s also a moment, sometimes, where you just—you put up something really complicated and you don’t say too much and you just kind of sit down and get the conversation going.

RZ That’s the other thing! Like letting people come into it, letting people coming into it. And it sounds like—I always start any presentation with, “Interrupt me anywhere—” It’s like literally the phrase I say every time: “As I go along, feel free to interrupt me at any point.” And what I’m trying to say here is like, “I am not interested in really putting on a show for you guys.”

PF You know what? Everybody says that but you have to kind of coach ‘em into it as you go along.

RZ You do. That’s true. That’s true.

PF “I wanna know if there’s any questions.” You do that. I do that too. Where it’s just like, “What do you guys think?” And—and [yeah] the um that’s vulnerability but if you’re confident in the material, it’s ok.

RZ Yes. Yes.

PF There is a—there is that point, too, like I’ve seen you do it, I’ll do this too. You—it’s a lot of like 20, 30 second slides and then there’s a slide that’s a half hour . . .

RZ Yeah. Well, you—it’s—to me, it’s resolution [mm hmm]. Like, it’s finally resolving itself cuz you’re [stammers]—it’s a story arch. It literally is a story arch like I had a pretty big presentation that I was putting together and, really, I mean if you split it up, the first half, I think I called it, “The Problems Today”, and it was just problem after problem after problem.

PF You’re done showing off in your career.

RZ Yeah.

[15:18]

PF It’s just, “Here: problems.”

RZ Right. And, you know, the problems today, by the way, that’s a good approach and you and I have this in common: we have these plain English phrases that we use.

PF No, no, no. Again: I don’t need them to believe I’m smart.

RZ No.

PF They can decide. They get to decide on their own if they’ve put the right person in the room [that’s right]. [Stammers] I have no choice but to trust them to make that decision.

RZ Absolutely. Now—[stammers] and then there’s this like key sort of intermission point almost, right? And the slide I had—I forget the exact wording of it but I’ve used words like, “So where do we go from here?”

PF Yes, that’s right.

RZ Right? Which it sounds like a—like a cheesy Netflix movie, right?

PF [Crosstalks] No, you know what you could do, too? And like it’s little, tiny things like instead of saying, “Next steps”, just have the slide say, “Next”, right? Like little things can show—can show that you’ve paid some attention here.

RZ Yeah, exactly.

PF And that it’s not cookie cutter but too far, if you go too far in the wrong direction, you lose ‘em fast.

RZ Yes. Don’t be dense. Don’t be—like and don’t be dense in—in your language and don’t be dense on the slide.

PF Don’t. Show. Off.

RZ Don’t show off. Oh gosh. I mean, it really needs to not feel like you’re selling.

PF People have given you an intense opportunity to stand up in front of them and tell them how they should organize their lives and future.

RZ Yes.

[16:35]

PF And you are going to, usually, combine that with an ask for a large amount of money.

RZ Mm hmm.

PF That’s a privilege.

RZ By the way, this is not sales. It could just—I—“I would need this—I want this budget. I have an idea and I’ve been in, you know, I’ve been in Tucson office for a long time and I’m finally, I see an opening, and I wanna pitch this to the big people and get that budget,” and—and it’s gonna come down to that presentation and that’s—that’s a lot, right? Like that’s a big deal.

PF You know what I will say? Decks are funny because when I need to write something, it’s good to open the word processor. When I need to program something, get started, start coding. Decks are dangerous to open and start without a lot of strategy and walkin’ around beforehand . . .

RZ Do you outline your decks?

PF I do and I use other tools and I write them and mostly they’re in my head but like what—there’s enough information organizing tools inside of PowerPoint and Keynote to really get you into trouble.

RZ Yeah.

PF Cuz I’ve done this, I’ll be like, “I’m gonna start with the deck and then—”

RZ I’ve very bad with notes. Do you put notes on the slide?

PF Notes are a disaster.

RZ Like presenter notes? I’m really bad at them.

PF So, like, if you do it that way, you end up with 360 slides and an outline and the outline has no bearing on the story. You’ve—[right] you’ve—it’s very, very hard to organize a good, stand-in-front-of-a-room kind of storytelling through an outline structure where you’re—where you’ve got a lot of rectangles to fill.

RZ Mm hmm.

[18:00]

PF It’s gotta be like I know what my story is and then I know what I need to prove out the story visually and then I’m gonna have a conversation with the screen.

RZ Yes.

PF And I’ve thought about this before, I always think that like one of the great things about PowerPoint is that it’s a little bit of a demilitarized zone. Like if I just stand up and start telling you what to do, you’re like, “Who are you, professor?!” [Right] But I have this thing that’s sort of like let’s everybody calm down and go, “Ok, there’s an artefact here that we’re all sharing.” [Yes] And—and really the deck should feel like they kind of own—they own it. Like they’re—they’re perceiving it and—

RZ It is a leave behind. To me, it is—it is almost ceremonial. The minute I’m done with the deck, it is no longer mine. It is yours.

PF That’s correct.

RZ It is yours and you will get a version to walk around. Like I’m arming you.

PF That’s right.

RZ And what I need to do is, you know, very often—I—you—it’s a scary moment when you’re done with that presentation because you’re about to relinquish control and you’re about to hand it to people who maybe are the decision makers or who maybe need to walk around and—and evangelize whatever it is you put in front of them.

PF I don’t think people—if you’re a little early in your career, you don’t have this experience as much because what you’re doing is you’re usually—you’re taught to make a presentation, present, and then someone will make a decision who’s more senior than you. In our position, you’ll go into a room, I’ll go into a room, you give the talk, you hand them the deck because then they are going to go walk around the entire organization to get consensus from their peers.

RZ Yes.

PF So you’re not actually giving them a presentation so they can make a decision, you’re teaching them how to sell the idea through the organization.

RZ Yeah. To clarify: we’re presenting a particular case which is us selling, not selling. Us consulting and informing and education and hoping that a relationship builds off of that.

PF It’s true. We’re not—we’re not teaching people about the new HR system.

RZ No, we do present to this company, sometimes, with a deck and that’s a very different case, right?

[19:49]

PF But then that is about making people internalize and understand the message and make it their own if they choose to.

RZ If they choose to. Or—or really push back and—and—and bring questions in. So, um, not everybody has access to this. One of the things I like to do—First off, Keynote, if you have access to Keynote, and you’re willing to invest the time, it’s just a far more elegant tool, in my view. It’s really not about density of information and more about just smooth and slick.

PF It’ll do outlines but that’s actually not where it shines. Like it’s not—

RZ That’s not where it shines. The ability to reveal information as you’re talking, and to animate, and to do some slick things that like make people pause. I can’t emphasize enough what it does to the perception of what you’re communicating. It is real. I hate to say it because that shouldn’t be the case if you’re using a nice font and—and designing it well, it creates credibility.

PF I will say the new version of PowerPoint, like the last couple of years—

RZ It’s probably pretty good.

PF No, it’s excellent.

RZ Yeah.

PF It’s not—it’s just not trued up the way that Apple stuff is.

RZ Yeah.

PF But it’s excellent.

RZ In either case, not everyone has access to this. If you have access to a designer [yeah], and have a little bit of time, that’s a really great investment.

PF That’s huge. We usually—with anything serious, we have design look over it.

RZ Yes.

PF It’s really—that’s key.

[21:10]

RZ And like re-do a slide or whatever.

PF Can I tell you a story about the absolute opposite of all this?

RZ Yes.

PF Ok. So, I was working on a giant consulting project and one day—and it was a multinational company—and one day they said, “Hey, vendor, consultant . . . our project analysis team will be flying in from London tomorrow and we will need you to be in a room for three days to justify every technical decision you’ve made across the course of this project. And to explain why you’ve done it, and to justify your budget.”

RZ Yikes.

PF Not good! Never had this happen before.

RZ Or a positive, no? Maybe this is the last hurdle?

PF No, they were coming for us.

RZ Ah!

PF And so—

RZ That’s not good.

PF It wasn’t good. Our backs were up against a wall and I turned to my peer and my peer said, she want, “Mmf, what are we gonna do?” And I was like, “I don’t know.” And then she said, “We gotta get a deck together. We gotta start there.” And then I went [Rich laughs], “Hmm.” And she’s like, “What we want is the maximum amount of documentation. We wanna show bulk here. We wanna show that we’ve thought everything through and we know what all the pieces are.”

RZ Ok now is this—is this documentation laying around?

PF Not really but also PowerPoint can only handle so much density. Like you can only get a paragraph per.

RZ Yeah.

[22:28]

PF Here’s what I did: I opened up a Google Document and a Google Sheet and I put every component of the system. So let’s say it was like the database and I named the database, and I described what it did, and I described the other things that it fit into, and I categorized them by different parts. Now if you describe any relatively complex software system and all the open source components, all the pieces, you end up with hundreds of rows.

RZ It’s a lot of stuff.

PF It’s a lot of stuff like what am I using for frontend? What am I using, you know—I’m using JavaScript and I’m using this library and I’m using this library and I know what all of them are. I do because I can just go around the directory and look at all the pieces, and I know how the frontend’s gonna work, and I know the palette, and so on—and I know the backend. And so—and the APIs I’m using, everything. Documented all of it. Categorized it. I have a Google Spreadsheet. It now has about a thousand lines, ok?

RZ Just of stuff?

PF Of stuff. I now save it and export it and write a tiny Python script and convert it into a Microsoft Word outline.

RZ What?!

PF Microsoft Word outlines can be imported directly into PowerPoint.

RZ You—you—you took a just let’s overwhelm them with information strategy.

PF We had no choice. So um—

RZ This is terrible. This is what you don’t—this is not what you’re supposed to do with decks.

PF No, this was purely defensive. It was a [yeah] quite a while ago in my career. And I will never do this again but it was about 840 pages long.

RZ Wow!

PF Yeah, because every single one of those components—and then what I did is I made a little information architecture so you had like the breadcrumbs on the top and the title and the dates and like all the metadata was there in the slide and then the like—the rectangular component in the middle that was like the paragraph and no visuals!

RZ Ok.

[24:14]

PF So I got in a room and they came hard at us and we—and we literally had an assistant roll in a hand truck with the decks.

RZ For real?

PF Printed out from Kinkos.

RZ Oh good God!

PF And they went on the table like this [makes loud thud]. And I watched their eyes, they—they came in all bright eyed, ready to murder us, and they died inside. And I said, “Well, we got about 850 components to get through and we got three days, so I think we should be able to do it. Let’s go.”

RZ So, Paul, when you were told to do this did you feel like, “Yeah! That’s a wonderful idea,’ or did you feel like, “Ok this is just like political tactic or survival tactic”?

PF It’s a little bit politic—it’s political but it’s also like [yeah] all the information in there is credible, factual information [yeah]. It was just how we presented it [yeah]. We weaponized the deck.

RZ Yeah.

PF Like we coulda run through—

RZ It doesn’t sound like a good artefact.

PF It wasn’t. We coulda gone through the Google Spreadsheet but we needed to—we needed a little bit of a—like I think we were kind of building a wall around ourselves like just like, “Hey [yeah], you’re gonna—you decided to descend on us for three days, we’re ready.”

RZ Yeah. Ok.

PF And if you trot out a Google Spreadsheet, that doesn’t look as ready.

RZ Right. You needed a—did you present this?

PF Yup.

RZ Ok.

[25:25]

PF We went through about 600 or the 800 slides.

RZ Yeah. Ok.

PF And I mean, honestly, like it sounds toxic but the reality is like, “Here’s a slide for every component,” and then they would be like, “Well, do you need that? Well, how do the indexes work? Well, is that gonna integrate with the backend and the frontend?” [Mm hmm] And then it would be like, “I know that. I don’t know that.” Like it wasn’t—it was very transparent. It was just like, “Here is—here’s a thousand points about what we’ve done. Tell me which parts you wanna talk through. I’m ready. It’s all here.”

RZ Right.

PF There actually was no better way to present that, frankly.

RZ Ok.

PF Like the best way to present that would’ve been like some giant diagram where we could drill in and zoom in [yeah] but I couldn’t get that together in two hours.

RZ Right [music fades in].

PF So, you know, Rich, as we alluded to earlier, we don’t actually deliver decks as a core part of this business.

RZ No, they’re often waypoints in the process.

PF That’s right.

RZ Yeah.

PF It’s how to show people what’s going on and give them a portrait but the thing we do is deliver software.

RZ Yeah, and, you know, some of our engagements are long and sometimes, you know, the stakeholders wanna see something and, frankly, if we sent them like a 22-page document . . . as an update—

PF Not good.

RZ It’s not good. It’s not good. You wanna talk it through.

PF You gotta give people tools to walk around with.

RZ That’s right.

PF And that’s what we do. And eventually . . . we always put something in your hand that works.

RZ But I will say: we do make really nice decks. When we do it, we do it right.

PF Oh we do it up. They look good.

RZ Yeah.

PF Get that Postlight design quality on top, too [Rich laughs]. I’m proud of some of our decks.

RZ Yes.

PF It hurts me that we can’t show them.

RZ We—I mean that’s part of the game. That’s the game you play.

PF Remember the one we did for the giant company that is like it’s in a drawer, we keep it, we printed it up very large?

RZ Yes.

PF Mm!

RZ Very nice, very nice work.

PF Anyway.

RZ For the “giant company” [chuckling].

PF Yeah, that’s about as much as our NDA will allow, right?

RZ Yes.

PF Um, anway we would love to talk to you both about decks and about building software. [email protected] is how you reach us. Anything else?

RZ No. Have a lovely week, everyone.

PF Alright, ‘Click to add title’ [music ramps up, plays alone for five seconds, fades out to end].