Post from the Past: A Better Way to Open Your Meetings


(Note: This post was originally published in August of 2013. But it’s more important now than ever.)

My family and I spent the weekend with some dear friends, and over the course of a weekend of laughter, swimming, ping pong and wine, the conversation turned (for a few minutes) to business. My good buddy, who works on Wall Street, described how their typical new business meetings go. He and his colleagues walk in to meet their prospective clients, armed with a hefty 60-70 page pitch book, and they launch into a lengthy monologue that typically starts off with an exhaustive description of their group’s (and their company’s) bona fides. They lead with an attempt to justify themselves by giving the long version of their collective bio.

Everyone starts their new-client business meetings this way. And I’ll tell you what I told my friend. It is boring, it is not unique, and it is a mistake.

If I were scripting this meeting anew for them, I would suggest simply leading with some version of “We are good at what we do, we have a great client list, and we want your business. We can share anything you want to know about our backgrounds if you are interested, and we’ve got a few pages on it in our appendix. Otherwise we can get straight to the value and the service we can provide for you…

Do people want to know your background? Sort of. What they really want to know is “are you qualified?” But the specific details of your background, in most business meetings, are not important and won’t be remembered. What people really want to know is what you will do for them, what value you will provide, and why you are a better option than your competition.

We constantly encourage our clients to get to the point quickly, and to spend the bulk of the time on the most important issues. Don’t lead your meetings with deep background on where the principals in your group went to college. Do you and your colleagues have an impressive CV? I’m sure you do. But no one truly cares.

What they care about is what you can do for them.

So focus on that.

Good luck.

P.S. You can also listen to the audio version of this post here:

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at

Photo: Justin Gaynor


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.