First Slides…

I remember my first Chief Executive Officer. I guess more precise would be that I remember the first time I interacted with a CEO. I had been asked to make a presentation. And to wear a suit. I didn’t have a suit. I had to buy one. I still have that suit somewhere. It doesn’t fit of course. And I wouldn’t wear it anyway. It was a style and colour of its day. Neither of which are today.

It was only the CEO. Not the Board of Directors. My first Board interaction was many years later – and I agree – I don’t know if that was a good result or no. I recall the preparation. I remember the rehearsals – word by word. I recall been given advice on my slides. I remember realising it was not advice – it was required.

One of the requested slides was what everyone called the CEO slide. The first slide – the first slide after the title slide of course. The was the Executive Summary – or more literally the CEO Summary. ‘You may only get opportunity to present that one slide’…‘so make sure it says everything you want to say’. I had 30 minutes on the agenda – and a new suit – my assumption was I would have my time in the spotlight.

Sure enough on the day, my ‘time’ became my ‘moment’. My one slide. He had ‘read it in advance’. I was in and out in less time than it had taken me to knot my tie. ‘You did well’ was the general feedback I remember. I recall a feeling of total anti-climax. All that effort and energy for next to nothing. Well nothing really.

Everyone asked me how it had gone. I didn’t really know what to say. Everyone seemed so much more excited than I was. More impressed than I was…more energised. My expectations were high – arguably too high. I was disappointed. I assumed it was me.

In due course I learned it wasn’t me (unless everyone was being nice of course). For years I used to include a ‘CEO slide’ in every presentation I gave. I even told the story about why a CEO slide…everyone would laugh. I used to laugh. I never thought it was that funny.

Since that day I have had other opportunities to present to CEOs and to Boards of Directors. Although to be fair (or honest) it was a long time after that first experience before I had a second.

CEOs and BODs have changed a lot since then – for the better. I have probably changed a lot since then as well (hopefully for the better as well). I don’t use a CEO slide any more. I do tell stories about CEOs and BODs. Sometimes I laugh…more often I reflect and admire. Repeat the insights. Share the learning. Remind about the suit and tie (for the BOD at least).

I still concentrate on that first slide…my opportunity to make that big statement. To grab attention and steer focus. I always seek help and advice on that first slide from people I know and trust. I normally take full heed of the advice offered. Sometimes I inexplicably totally overlook great advice.

My goal is always the same – to leave a presentation – whether to a leadership team last week, a CEO next week, or a Board of Directors next month – with more or better. More ideas, more focus, more support, better priorities, better clarity, better objectives. More or better.

What I share, say or ask…and how…is important. How open I am to hear, listen and absorb advice, experience and insight is more important.

And valuable…




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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1 Response to First Slides…

  1. Tony Burgess says:

    It’s interesting to see Mark Zuckerberg wear a suit because we know him for wearing t-shirts and hoodies around Facebook. It has to be something serious or special for him to don a suit.

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