The best piece of career advice I ever received had nothing to do with finance. It wasn’t about scrubbing numbers, building models, or conducting an analysis. It was on presentation flow and how to know if yours is good.
The advice was this:
“Treat each heading as the question, the page (charts, tables or text) as the proof, and the takeaway message as the answer.”
It was given to me by a senior banker and is something I have since passed on to all of my teams.
At a conceptual level is looks something like:
Let’s now look at a practical example:
I’ve previously written about the importance of storyboarding and obeying this elementary rule shows if you ordered the flow of your pitchbook correctly. Is your question in the headline? Are your contents providing proof? Is your question answered?
At the time, I didn’t recognize this advice to be that valuable. But after seeing it in action in meeting after meeting with the senior banker, I realized the genius of its simplicity. Not once did I ever see him flip through the pitchbook to find something, or watch clients struggle to connect ideas together—it just always flowed. The presentation built over a series of propositions (the building blocks) allowing for advice from the banker to be clearly heard.
Over the following decades, I’ve continued to abide by this rule and I always smile when I can respond to a client question with, “That’s interesting, and exactly what we’ll address on the next page.” It means I know the pitchbook is building, the client is engaged, and critically, I’ve anticipated the questions so the presentation becomes a discussion and not a monologue.
Are there any pitchbook rules you follow? What was your best career advice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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