Presenting to a board is high-risk – get it right & you may well be earmarked for greater things but get it wrong & the future could be less favourable!
I’ve sat on a few boards, so here’s my advice;
- Remember everyone in the room is equal or at least should be. Each board member is independant & they will argue with each other and with you. This can be a shock at first as you see your CEO being answered back but it’s all part of reaching a majority through discussion.
- Make sure your topic is relevant. There’s nothing worse than a board agenda point that doesn’t need to be there. Board meetings are all about getting actions agreed, so when something comes up that doesn’t need the board to be acted on, you will be tainted with the ‘time waster’ brush.
- Do your research on how the board meetings are run – very strict & on agenda via the chair or more informal. Talk to the company secretary.
- Never drop a question. If you want to come back to it to keep the flow going, then make sure it’s captured on a flip chart or on screen notes. It shows everyone that it’s not forgotten & they can focus on the next point.
- Almost inevitably the board will start talking amongst themselves. When this happens try & involve them in your point or call a break & reset your point.
- Don’t defend but instead try & persuade ie present all the facts & figures even if they highlight a potential weakness. Better to be in control of this than have someone pull your presentation apart.
- My personal favourite – always write a good briefing paper & circulate it at least 3 days before the meeting. My experience is that many boards hate receiving anything new at the meeting. After all it’s very hard to create a convincing plan on the fly in the meeting!
Follow up! A thank you note, an offer to come back & look at anything that still needs work or to respond to specific questions & most importantly the minutes. ‘He who writes the minutes runs the company’ so make sure your actions & timings are correctly noted. Amend them if you feel they don’t fully capture what was agreed