Presenting to the board of directors can be a daunting task, and our clients often seek our guidance on how to navigate this public speaking situation. While every board is unique, some being more formal than others, it's essential to be prepared regardless of the setting. Some boards prefer a traditional presentation style, with you standing at the front and delivering your content (typically those inclined towards Results and Information Presenter Personality Styles). On the other hand, some boards prefer a more conversational approach, where you sit down and discuss your proposals (often associated with dominance in Sociable or Caring styles). In either case, thorough preparation is crucial. A public speaking coach in Glasgow can help you to tackle a tricky board presentation.
Do you perceive the board as superior?
Many individuals experience fear and anxiety when presenting to the board, often due to the perception that the board members hold higher positions, possess greater power, and have more knowledge than the speaker. This perception creates immense pressure during the presentation. However, if you approach the board presentation with nervousness, it can lead to a decline in your performance. (We advise our clients not to label themselves as "nervous" - you can find out why here!) Instead, aim to remain calm, confident, and focused when presenting to the board. We work with our clients to improve their mindset and address the negative internal voices, known as "The Inner Critic," that cast doubts on their presentation abilities. Many clients have an Inner Critic that tells them they aren't good enough when presenting to the board. It's important to remember that the board is there to listen to the information you present, not to compare themselves to you. If that mindset doesn't work, you can explore ways to enhance your gravitas, confidence, and learn more about taming your Inner Critic in our Fearless Speaker Programme.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Presenting to the Board
To help you feel more confident when presenting to the board, let's explore the most frequent mistakes people make and how to avoid them.
1. Providing excessive detail
The board is interested in strategy and the big picture, so it's important to keep your presentation concise (although those with a preference for the Information Presenter Personality Style should be cautious!). While it's necessary to conduct detailed research, you don't need to present all of it unless specifically asked. Utilizing hidden slides in PowerPoint is an effective way to be fully prepared without overwhelming the board. Our unique Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) ensures you always know the appropriate level of detail to cover, preventing you from delving too deep, which can be counterproductive. Talking for too long or getting lost in unnecessary details can cause the board to lose interest or divert the discussion into unproductive tangents.
2. Overlooking inter-relationships
People often forget to consider aspects beyond their direct responsibilities, but the board operates at a higher level and cares about the entire business. They are keen to understand the relationships between different departments, divisions, countries, customers, and products. When requesting funds or resources from the board, it's crucial to be aware of who else is making similar requests and what they are specifically asking for. For example, if there are limited investment funds available, you should know which projects or initiatives are competing for that money and be prepared to articulate why your proposal is a superior choice.
3. Failing to anticipate board questions
We always emphasize the importance of stepping into the shoes of your audience members, which, in this case, are the individuals on the board. Understanding their perspectives allows you to anticipate the questions they might ask. In our training course "The Confident Speaker Programme," we assist clients in developing and preparing their presentations with the audience in mind (in fact, we have a dedicated workbook called "the audience in mind"!). Moreover, in the SAS's WHAT IF section, we allocate time to predict potential questions, ensuring you are never caught off guard by foreseeable inquiries. So, when the board asks a question, you can confidently respond, "I thought you might ask that," showcasing your strategic thinking abilities.
At Public Speaking Coach Scotland, we offer professional presentation skills courses and public speaking coaching tailored for directors, management teams, marketing and sales teams of corporate companies in various locations. Contact us today at 0141 291 5100 for an informal discussion regarding your specific presentation skills training requirements.