Board Of Directors

Common mistakes to avoid when presenting to directors

One common public speaking situation that our clients ask us for help with is giving a presentation to the board. Not every board is the same and some are more formal than others. Some want you to come in, stand at the front and present (more likely a board with a preference for Results and Information Presenter Personality Styles) and others ask you to sit down and “chat” through your proposals (more likely dominance in Sociable or Caring styles). Either way, don’t be fooled you still need to prepare your presentation and be ready for anything.

Do you feel the board are “better”?

Presenting to this group of people seems to fill many people with fear and countless nights lost sleep prior to the event. This is often because the board is perceived to be more senior, more powerful and more knowledgeable than the speaker so it’s considered a high-pressure presentation. But if you approach the board presentation feeling ‘nervous’ it will send you on a Downward Spiral of decreasing performance. (We suggest to our clients they don’t even use the label ‘nervous’ see why here!) Instead, you want to remain calm, confident and focussed in front of the board. To do that we work with clients to improve their mindset and get in tune with those “Public Speaking Monkeys” – the negative internal voices that put doubts in our mind about our presenting abilities. Many of our clients have a ‘you’re not good enough’ monkey when they think about presenting to the board. It’s good to remember that the board are there to listen to the information you present – not to compare themselves to you and if that doesn’t work then find out more about growing your gravitas and confidence and “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys” in my book of the same name.

Mistakes to avoid when presenting to the board

To help you feel more confident when presenting to the board here are the most common mistakes we see people make and how to avoid them.

Too much detail

  • The board want strategy, the big picture so keep it brief (watch out those with a preference for Information Presenter Personality Style!) Of course you need to have done your detailed research but you don’t need to present it unless they ask.
  • Using hidden slides on PowerPoint is a great way to be totally ready but not give them too much.
  • By using our unique Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) you’ll always know the right level of detail to cover and avoid focusing on too much detail which can be dangerous! You’ll end up talking for too long and losing their interest or worse still going down some ‘rabbit holes’ or encouraging them to get into the nitty gritty!

Not seeing the inter-relationships

  • People tend to forget to consider things outside their line of direct responsibility, but the board are high level and care about the whole business, they will be keen to see relationships with other departments, divisions, countries, customers and products etc.
  • When it comes to asking for money or resources from the board, you need to know who else is asking, and what exactly are they asking for. For example, if there are limited funds for investment then who/what is your project competing with for that money and why is yours a better decision?

Not anticipating the questions from the board.

  • We are always talking to our presentation skills mentoring clients about making sure they step into the shoes of the audience member – in this case, the individuals on the board. You need to understand where they are coming from and thus and anticipate the questions they will ask.
  • In our training course “Present Like a Pro”, we help our clients to develop and prepare their presentation with the audience always in their mind (in fact one of our workbooks is called “the audience in mind”!). And in the WHAT IF section of the SAS specifically we dedicate time to predicting potential questions so you’ll never again get caught out by a predictable question.
  • So when they ask you that question, now, with your hidden slides ready you can say “I thought you might ask me that” demonstrating your strategic thinking ability.

Simply Amazing Training offers professional presentation skills courses and public speaking coaching for directors, management training, marketing and sales teams of corporate companies around London, Leicestershire, Kent, Basingstoke, Bournemouth and St Albans. Call us today on 0330 223 4392 for an informal chat to discuss your bespoke presentation skills training requirements.

Posted by Dee Clayton on 18 Jun 2019

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