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Presenting to the Board of Directors: Present to a Board with Confidence and Conviction

Presenting to the Board of Directors: Present to a Board with Confidence and Conviction

presenting to the board

To the uninitiated, the concept of presenting to the board of directors may be interpreted as a form of advanced executive presentation skills training. Yes, that is a component but interfacing with the board, notably for first-timers, demands familiarity with its intricacies:

  • Understanding of expectations
  • Engaging and interacting with the appropriate tone and respect
  • Roles of Board Members and the Chair and Stakeholders
  • Dealing with short attention spans – and the right way to respond
  • Contingency planning when presentations are cut short
  • Preparing for vigorous Q&A

A Presentation to the Board of Directors Is a Very Big Deal!

Board members’ expectations run high. They are not passive listeners but active participants, eager for clear, concise information they can discuss among themselves – immediately. They ask questions and expect prompt answers.

We developed Board Presence Workshops to train executives for these highly demanding and often intense board presentations. The origin had its beginnings in feedback senior leaders received from Board members frustrated by disappointing, ill-prepared presenters. Especially when this is a new experience or executives are new to the company, they may not understand and be familiar with the high-performance demands required in meetings with their Board.

C-Suite leaders from various organizations realized they needed to equip themselves and their people with the skills to meet and interact with Board members. They approached us to develop training and identified two very specific but differing groups:

  • C-Level leaders
  • Senior executives and managers

C-Level Leaders

These experienced professionals realize a first invitation from the Board could signal the possibility of more frequent attendance, demanding a clear understanding and firm grounding of expectations, including a detailed presentation agenda. They comprehend their role as guests, not members, at an exclusive club.
Some admit a sense of presentation anxiety they have not experienced in years. These leaders understand that although stress diminishes with practice, being called to meet with the Board requires meticulous preparation.

Senior Executives and Managers

This group was seen by numerous organizations as being more vulnerable to stress when invited to this high visibility environment, underestimating the need for specific preparations, and failing to understand their role at Board meetings. In addition to high-stress levels in this situation, three specific behaviours—complacency, smugness and wordiness (usually among so-called technical experts)—were identified as possible pitfalls. The organization’s workshop objectives ranged from easing stress for those with anxiety to checking over-confident conduct with comprehensive training that enabled participants to simulate the Board experience.

How to Deliver an Executive Presentation to a Board of Directors

  • Thorough preparation: is the key to a successful presentation
  • Audience understanding: research priorities and backgrounds
  • Clear outline: organize ideas, cover key points
  • Visually informative content: engages audiences, and adds professionalism
  • Focused outcome: helps board grasp long-term impact, backed by data
  • Address potential challenges: demonstrate critical thinking and risk management
  • Ample time for questions: encourages engagement, addresses uncertainties
  • Strong conclusion: summary, appreciation, compelling call to action

Guidelines for Effective Presentation Delivery

  • Pre-read and rehearse: Boosts confidence, improves speaking flow
  • Practice methods: Use friends, recording, or other techniques
  • Send materials in advance: Allows board members to review and prepare questions
  • Arrive early: Set up, familiarize yourself with the room
  • Fix technical issues: Ensure a smooth presentation experience

A unique, hands-on opportunity for participants

CCI Senior Consultant Jim Olson’s expertise was instrumental in enabling us to replicate the sense of Board meetings and fine-tune content for these BP Workshops. With his extensive experience as a Board member, currently serving on the Board of Maple Leaf Foods, and as a member of NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors), Jim continues to both facilitate Board Presence Workshops and drive curriculum updates. As a Board Leadership Fellow, Jim is recognized for his expertise and commitment to excellence in the boardroom, notably, the importance of continued education to enhance boardroom skills.

Behind the closed doors of the boardroom

Although CCI works with organizations to customize and address specific requirements attuned to its senior executives, every session goes behind the boardroom doors to examine Board Presence — the precise requirements imperative to excel in this high-stakes environment.

The content for Board Presence Workshops is designed to prepare potential presenters at higher organizational levels including:

  • C-Level leaders
  • Direct reports to CEO and C-Level
  • Senior executives with regular Board interaction
  • Management who interact informally with the Board and its members
  • Department heads accountable to the Board – investor relations, public relations, IT – who may not report directly to its members

Read more about co-facilitators Jim Olson and Diane Craig

Join our course about Board Presence to improve your skills when presenting to a board of directors.

Contact us to discuss your organization’s needs for Board Presence training

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