10 tips to present effectively to your board

10 tips to present effectively to your board

Julie Garland McLellan, Professional Company Director and CEO of The Director's Dilemma
September 2022

Anyone who is in the boardroom is taking part in leadership. It's important that everyone has the ability to influence decisions to get better outcomes. Here Julie Garland McLellan shares ten tips to improve your chances of doing it well.
  1. Don't be daunted. Presenting to the board is an important and onerous task. If someone has recommended you to make a presentation in the board room they have done so because they believe that you have what it takes to make a good presentation.

  2. Be prepared. Understand why the board wants your presentation. Do they need background information on a topic, or a report on progress, or is there a decision which the board must make.

  3. The board is the ultimate decision making forum. Make sure that your presentation helps the board to fulfil its aims.

  4. Understand how the board you are presenting to works. Because boards work as a team, rather than as a group of individuals, it is important that they discuss issues thoroughly and form a group decision. When presenting to a board aim to enable a good discussion and form a basis the future decision-making.

  5. Understand board protocol. You can expect that experienced board members will address their questions to you through the chairman.  The Chair will manage the amount of time that the board allocate to your topic.

  6. Allow the board to prepare thoroughly. Boards need to discuss the information presented, and to do that they need to understand it. Provide a paper so that the directors are "up to speed" before you present.

  7. Discuss rather than present. Boards sit through a lot of presentations. Rather than subject them to yet another presentation, try to summarise very briefly the information you have provided beforehand, and then facilitate a discussion with the board members.

  8. Provide good quality information. Boards need information that is relevant, in perspective, timely provided an appropriate frequent intervals, and reliable consistent coherent and easily comparable with other data, and above all, clear and easily understood.

  9. Set the content at an appropriate level. What goes into a report depends upon what the board already know, how important this report is to the board, whether the report is in a written or verbal form, any supporting information, etc.

  10. Be punctual and polite. Please and thank you are the two most important words in your presentation. If a board member interrupts interjects, rather than react to their rudeness show your good manners, and pause politely to listen to their comment and deal with it before moving on.

Following the 10 tips above will help you to present effectively and help your board to make the best and most appropriate decisions following your presentations.