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7 tips for Presenting to the Board

Presenting well to your peers may be one thing, but giving a presentation to VPs, directors and other people that usually hang in boardrooms is an entirely new game. This tutorial will guide you through this difficult task in 7 steps, empowering you to present like a star, when the stakes are high.

#1. Start strong

A formal environment like a boardroom attracts people with a no-nonsense mentality.

This does not mean you can’t provide background information, but make it matter-of-fact and stick to the point. And make your points clear and concise. Start with the most important information, presented in a matter-of-fact way.

#2. Know your topic 

You have come to the boardroom to tell the board of directors something they do not yet know or to provide them with a direction on a topic you know best of. Present yourself as the expert. Make sure you really know what you’re talking about. Have your notes right next to you, in case the tension makes you forget your carefully prepared lines.

#3. Know your audience

Make sure you know who will be there and speak their language - discuss things they care about. For example, your VP will be there and his last pet project is the brand-new CRM-system he has his heart set on. Make sure you include it in your presentation and show you heard him this past few weeks or months when he was talking about this CRM.

#4. Craft content that matters

Your audience has little time, and everything you say needs to serve their needs. Check your content to make sure that your colleagues higher up can directly use your information to make decisions. Take a minute and put yourself in their shoes!

#5. Clear structure

Don’t forget to tie your narrative together in a way that is easy to understand. Present mainly facts, forming a logical story. And support it with relevant images and graphs. Our brain is much better at processing images than words. Directors and VP’s are of course no exception to this rule! They do require a no-nonsense approach and fluffy words need to be avoided.

#6. Practice & visualize

Start practicing by first imagining the situation on the big day. What will it be like in the room? What will the tone of voice be?

Also, keep time, as people high up in the organization have little of it. Make the time they spend listening to you meaningful, and stick to the time that’s allocated to your topic. Start your presentation on time, provide an outline of what you’ll discuss, notify the board that there will be time for questions at the end of your presentation, and end on time so you have room to answer those questions. It’s worthwhile to practice all of this! It will make your story sound much smoother, as you will really own it.

#7. Test, test, double test

On days like this, distractions from your presentation are very unwelcome. Try to eliminate these, by making sure you know in what room you’ll be presenting and, if possible, test the equipment the day before. Have a backup of your presentation with you, in case things do go wrong.

Sticking to these 7 presentation guidelines, you’ll have the board in your back pocket and you’ll be able to present under pressure no problem. Good luck!