3 Tips for Nailing Your Board Presentation (Part 2)

Board meeting presentations are golden opportunities for executives to demonstrate their credentials as business leaders. Learn The Public Speaker’s 3 more tips for making an effective presentation to a board of directors.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #179

by Lisa. B. Marshall

Board meeting presentations are golden opportunities for executives to demonstrate their credentials as business leaders. Last week, I discussed the first 3 tips for nailing your presentation to the board of directors. Today, I’ll cover three more tips, focusing on how to make board presentations less intimidating for you, the presenter, and more meaningful to the board members.

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In last week’s episode, which I urge you to check out before this one, I covered the 3 tips for nailing your board presentation. Very briefly, I first explained that you need to understand the significance of the challenge you are facing, that you need to understand what and why you are presenting, and finally, I suggested that you use a presentation template to plan your core message and supporting key points.  

We’ll pick up from last week with 3 more tips on how to make your presentation to the board of directors less intimidating and more effective:

Tip #4: Be Clear

For board presentations, it’s critical that your key points clearly communicate the link between your work and business outcomes. Don’t get caught up with technical details, instead know the company’s objectives and explicitly state how your work will help reach those specific financial and strategic objectives. If possible, quantify how your work brings in additional revenues or is a cost savings and compare to company or industry standards.  

Keep in mind that board members usually have diverse backgrounds, so you’ll need to choose language that everyone in the room can understand. Avoid technical jargon, unnecessarily complicated language, or excessive detail. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you leave out technical terms or “dumb down” your presentation. No, what I am saying is that you need to communicate your ideas as plainly and clearly as possible. You don't want to be perceived as a techie who talks about the latest cool stuff or the academic who is knee-deep in theory. Instead, you want to be perceived as a leader, a decision-maker who understands the business and sees the bigger picture. 

Finally, don’t just present the raw numbers in text form. Put your data on display and bring your work to life by adding visual elements. Not only is it more interesting, it also makes the data easier to understand. Incorporate graphs, charts, images, and text to show off your hard work and deliver the information in the form of a story.

Check out these episodes (Everyday Story TellingHow to Tell Better Stories, Getting Better Results from Your PR Efforts) on storytelling!

Tip #5: Be Concise

One of the most difficult aspects of a board presentation is be able to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. Keep in mind that at times, the board will want to understand how you arrived at your conclusions or decisions. Not only do you need to be prepared to present a high level summary, you also need to be prepared to dive deeply into the messy details, again communicating those details concisely.  

Don't underestimate their ability to understand the details. Expect many interruptions. In fact, interruptions are usually what catch most people off-guard and can easily derail a presentation. Finally, keep in mind that as the speaker, it’s your job to remain in control of presentation. Don’t let questions get you off-track.

In order to prepare for those interruptions, it's important that you seek out in advance the questions that may be asked of you. Talk to the president, talk to your colleagues, and really think for yourself what would be the most difficult questions that you might receive.  Trust your gut—if you feel a slight twinge of anxiety when practicing certain topics in your presentation, it’s likely you need to prepare even more for that section.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.