Presenting at your first board meeting? Don’t sweat it. These tips will make your first presentation a breeze — all you need is a little preparation.
The board is important, and so are the people who sit on it. But before you put them too high on a pedestal and get stage struck, remember this:
They’re human, just like you. That means they have feelings, too.
The board room is like any other: full of personalities.
Like you, these personalities are under the influence of significant pressure, and constrained resources. That’s why it’s critical that you respect their time and get to the point with impact.
Brace yourself for the board
Most people prepare to present to boards as if they’re about to swim through piranha-infested waters with a nosebleed, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you can leverage an internal ally to give you inside information and lay out the political landscape, you’re in a good starting position. It becomes more like swimming with dolphins.
Board can often be intense with long, important agendas so time has to be managed efficiently — and that includes yours.
1. Think high impact
Only present ideas, opportunities or initiatives that fit within their priorities. If they want details, they’ll ask for them. Make certain you have them ready.
Give them the big picture, make sure it’s strategic, worthy of their time and has high impact potential.
2. Keep it positive
Your job is to present with a ” attitude and manner, regardless of the issue. Above everything else, the board will be looking for a high level of assurance, poise and tenacity that you not only know exactly what you’re talking about, but that you and the content of your presentation.
3. Step up
Don’t be intimidated by them or see yourself as any less important. Remember, while boards are important, so are you — and you wouldn’t even be presenting to them without substantial knowledge of your topic.
That means they have an interest in what you have to say and an even keener interest in you helping them to move forward and add value.
4. Prepare them as well as yourself
Give the board time to prepare thoroughly by providing a briefing paper, which can be sent to them in advance with the agenda and other board papers.
5. Make it a conversation
Boards have to sit through many presentations and often find being spoken at quite tiresome. They’re likely to expect yours to be too, so surprise them.
6. Content is king
As well as a passionate, clear, concise and compelling delivery, don’t underestimate the quality of your content and the information you’re presenting. Boards are made of up intelligent and discerning people, and content is critical in getting and keeping their attention. ( to tweet this information.)
7. Have a goal
And be clear about it! What’s the purpose of your presentation and what do you want to achieve from it? Make sure you conclude by telling them the board what you want from them.
8. Smile and tell stories
Being professional doesn’t mean you have to be dead serious all the time, even when it comes to presenting to the board.
You’ll be amazed how much they long to see people in the board room presenting something of value, who are also relaxed, friendly, have a sense of humor and are human.
Speak clearly and tell , anecdotes and share personal experiences to help bring your presentation and message to life. Take them on a journey.
9. Make it about them, not you
Everything you say, show and do should revolve around adding value to the business and making a tangible difference aligned to the vision, values and priorities of the business.
Focus yourself, your presentation and your message on making the board and the business look good and leave yourself out of it — that’ll come later.
10. Prepare for questions
However much you prepare for questions, someone will make it their business to ask you a question you just don’t know the answer to.
That shouldn’t stop you preparing thoroughly. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself every conceivable question and have an answer.
If you honestly don’t know the answer to a question, say so, and offer to find out the answer as soon as possible. Don’t try to bluff your way through answers; it’s unprofessional, painful to listen to and you may do yourself more harm than good.
The board wants you to do well
Presenting to the board doesn’t have to be a terrifying experience. If you’re prepared, enthusiastic and have a clear goal and commitment to add value to the business with the idea you’re presenting, the board will sense and appreciate that.
Prepare thoroughly, set the intention to enjoy the experience and help the board to do the same.
Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s best loved brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create helping leaders to do exactly that.