Does A ‘Thank You’ Slide Make You Look Weak?

October 24, 2023

Never has a slide caused more polarization than a simple back cover ‘Thank You’ slide.

Through millions of decks, presenters commonly waiver whether they should add this slide or whether it shows weakness. So in honor of Thanksgiving, we wrote this article; to talk through the logic here (and even reach a conclusion). By the end of this article you should at least have less ambiguity and a ‘compass’ to determine whether or not a Thank You slide is worth it for you and your presentation.

What Is This Controversial ‘Thank You’ Slide You Talk Of?

For those unfamiliar typically with pitch decks, sales presentations and even internal presentations, time is spent on the meat of the presentation:

  • Building the business case
  • Angling the partnership
  • Laying out the logic
  • Pointing towards the inevitable proposal

Hence, when used, the ‘Thank You’ slide is logically the end-cap of the presentation. However, what we find is that some high percentage of the time a ‘Thank You’ slide is used, it’s done so without thought. That is, the presentation creator inserts a Thank You slide because it’s just what they think is ‘normally done’/what one should do.

However, with real estate so valuable in your presentation and in your audience’s attention, we would contend that we should be super pointed in every element we put into our decks.

Confused Origins: The Split Perception Of The Thank You Slide

For those who have spent time thinking about whether to have a ‘Thank You’ slide or not, much of the opposition tends to come from a split perception in WHY the thank you slide is incorporated.

For some, the thank you slide is specifically used in cases where you believe to have an ‘inferior’ position. Common use case: the ‘felt’ dynamics between most startup founders and investors. Additional case: partnership between startup and mega account prospect (e.g., corporate).

For others, the ‘thank you’ is not at all a product of the perceived relationship ‘leverage,’ but rather done for one’s self out of genuine gratitude, which consequently reflects on their business’s brand. We’d argue this is the camp you want to be in IF using a thank you slide. Appreciation not from the perspective that one’s time is more or less valuable (startup founders hustle, corporate citizens hustle, partners hustle, investors hustle; we come together in the interest of joint opportunity). Instead the appreciation is for the attention, the human who pragmatically showed up and spent time and was an excellent interaction.

There is of course a ‘strategic’ reason when done from a traditional sales perspective. The ‘Thank You’ slide, when positioned more personally (or with a personal talk-over) is an excellent opportunity to play to the ego of your audience and make them feel very special/on a pedestal, whether or not that may be actually true. We can think of this as a variant of the ‘imbalanced’ relationship reason, only in this case it’s a bit…intentionally magnified.

It is worth noting that these underlying reasons are not mutually exclusive. Imagine a world in which you load a Thank You Slide a) because you partly do think the person’s time is worth more/they’re doing you a favor (see: senior ‘dream’ advisor, internal senior advocate), b) because you genuinely do appreciate their thought and attention and ‘humanness’ and c) you do (quietly) want to play to their ego a bit and ingratiate yourself and the opportunity.

The Case Against The Thank You Slide

So given the above rationale it seems like there should be a reason to use the ‘Thank You’ slide for everyone right? So it’s a done deal?

Well, not so fast.

There’s one mega problem with the thank you slide (and one secondary problem).

So what’s the ‘mega’ problem with the ‘Thank You’ slide?

Put simply, it’s not pointed at all in its CTA.

Your job with your presentation is of course to be human (people partner with humans as that’s what life is all about); but it’s also to drive the partnership agenda towards clarity and next steps. And equally drive the clarity for an audience who is likely multitasking and distracted (like we all are).

You: Laser-focused on nailing the deal.

Your Audience: Likely interested, but also likely juggling other priorities as well.

So if you’re going to spend all of the time and energy delivering an incredible, pointed, extremely linear and thoughtful presentation, do you really want to leave your audience without a clear set of next steps, timeline and CTA?

Building on top of this, there is also a secondary reason why the ‘Thank You’ slide may be a suboptimal last-slide solution: it somewhat signals lack of momentum and action. It’s a slow-moving slide that doesn’t signal to your audience that you’re in ‘go-mode.’ Your audience likely wants to invest their time with excellent people but also with partners that are likely going to help them achieve their goals too, and fast.

Conclusions (And A Recommendation)

It’s funny how such a seemingly ‘standard’/innocuous slide could actually mean so much. Could mean the continued tone and action of your newly-formed relationship. So with all of the different rationale that we’ve laid out, what is our recommendation?

Ultimately, our opinion is for 99% of presentations, we think you could be far more pointed in the impact you end with as well as CTA than just a ‘Thank You’ slide, even if there is an email on the slide. The goal: leave the audience feeling excited, with your opportunity as memorable, and help carve the path forward for them by laying out your proposed next steps and where these next steps fit into your overall ‘agenda.’ If live, this can even be a topic for alignment and discussion so you can best manage the relationship/pipeline as well.

However, what would we also recommend? Being genuinely thankful for your partner’s time and decency and making them feel good as well.

Considerations for where you can include this?

  1. In the talk-over if you’re presenting live
  2. In the email should you be setting up time in advance
  3. In the follow-on email after you meet with the partner or if they take the time to read through your presentation.

We look forward to hearing about your back-slide evolution and your newly formed deals.

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