Presenting to the Board of Directors: The high stakes forum of corporate life

presenting to the board

To the uninitiated, the concept of Board Presence may be interpreted as a form of advanced 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
  • Dealing with short attention spans – and the right way to respond
  • Contingency planning when presentations are cut short
  • Preparing for vigorous Q&A

It is a fact of corporate life that presenting 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 interactions. 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 meeting 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 detailed presentation guidelines. 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, underestimate the need for specific preparations and fail to understand their role at Board meetings. In addition to high stress levels in this situation, three specific behaviors, complacency, smugness and wordiness (usually among so-called technical experts) were identified as possible pitfalls. The organizations’ workshop objectives ranged from allying stress for those with anxiety, to checking over-confident conduct with comprehensive training that enabled participants to simulate the Board 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, and 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

Read more about Board Presence

Contact us to discuss your organization’s needs for Board Presence training
team@corporateclassinc.com

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills 101

presentation-skills-torontoFor many people, presenting in front of a group of peers, clients or superiors can be seriously intimidating! However, nailing presentations of any kind is one sure-fire way to increase your Executive Presence on the spot and seriously impress your boss. But, how to overcome the nerves? How can you make your presentation on numbers or statistics as interesting and engaging as possible? How can you command attention from everyone in the room throughout your whole presentation? There’s a lot that goes into a successful presentation, so we’ve compiled a list of four suggestions that you can follow while preparing for your next presentation to help you get started.

  1. Organize your presentation

    Make sure you’ve put thought into the content of your presentation (i.e. your use of language and your use of jargon and acronyms) as well as the structure of the presentation (i.e. the strategy and order of ideas). Your structure should look something like this: Conclusion, Points supporting the conclusion, Sub-points supporting your main points and finally Conclude your talk.

  2. Manage your stress

    There’s noting more painful to watch than someone on stage who is clearly completely uncomfortable being there and who’s presentation is suffering because of it. Don’t forget that the people in the audience are there to listen to you and welcome you – they are on your side! Whether or not you’re a born speaker, being able to manage stress can make even the most frightful public speaker appear at ease and comfortable on stage. Here are a few ways you can manage your stress both before and during your presentation:- Prepare and rehearse before hand.- Arrive early
    – Power pose (for more on this, check out our blog post on power posing)
    – Drink lots of water
    – Think positively
    – Make eye contact with the audience
    – Speak on the exhale
    – Find friends in the audience

  3. Project and inspire confidence

    One way to ensure a successful presentation is the projection of confidence! That’s the only way the audience will believe what you are saying. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to make eye contact with everyone in the room. A great way to do this is to scan all four corners of the room right when you walk in, so you’ve already acknowledge all the people in the room. When entering the room, enter on the exhale – this will project calmness and confidence.
    Presenting in front of a group of people doesn’t have to be an automatic stress-inducer! Being well-prepared is half the battle; if you take the time and make the necessary preparations, chances are very high that you will go into your next presentation feeling confident, ready and at ease. If you want to learn more about how to increase your presentation skills, check out our Course and Lunch and Learn on presentation skills.

  4. It’s ok to use notes, however…

    Using notes during a presentation is fine, and encouraged, however be sure to have proper notes ready, and not a full script that you will read from. “Proper notes” entails notes that have been shortened and made simple, and which present only main ideas, where each line includes only about 4-5 words. Bullet points are used to indicate the flow of ideas. The idea with proper notes is that they prevent you from “reading,” however still prompt you with your next thought.