Putting Together a Board Deck — Tips and Techniques

A few weeks ago, Casey Ellis, CEO of Bugcrowd, emailed the Costanoa CEO group looking for tips on the mechanics of assembling a board deck. He asked “is this a universally annoying thing that we all brute-force our way through?” The thread blew up. Many CEOs felt that challenges of many contributors, last-minute changes, and tools being either good for collaboration (Google Sheets) or presentation (PowerPoint and Keynote) but not both.

Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet. Here are the best practices they shared:

Create and agree on an outline: Meet with all collaborators and decide what information will be included in the deck. Once the outline is agreed upon, identify slide owners to fill in the information. The slide owner and CEO are the only ones allowed to make changes on those specific slides. This will help avoid multiple revisions and files.

Use a template: Create a general template that all contributors are familiar with. Let everyone fill in their information with plain formatting so it is easy to edit later. Consistency is key so some functional sections (sales, marketing and finance updates) can have a structured framework.

Keep a folder on a shared drive: Create one folder for all final board deck materials. As the CEO, this will help save you time when compiling the full presentation.

Convert final board deck in a single PDF with page numbers: Wait to compile all slides until a certain deadline so everyone can make changes till the end. Make sure everything flows and is formatted consistently before converting to a PDF.

Maintaining flexibility while having the ability to enforce consistency were some key themes. Since tools tend to be better at one versus the other, CEOs tended to ultimately pick whichever tool saved them the most time.

Matt Blumberg, the CEO of Return Path, wrote a chapter on the subject in his book Startup CEO, which we’ve linked below.¹

What process have you developed to create board decks?