• Amii Barnard-Bahn

You’re On! Presenting to the Board

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

Last week I helped one of my clients prepare for her first report to the company’s board of directors. 

I shared the advice given to me by my CEO the first time I was invited to present to our Board: “Enjoy it.” 

It’s a privilege to present to a Board of Directors, and an exceptional professional opportunity for you. Be prepared to the point that you can be relaxed and demonstrate your area of expertise - but not so rehearsed that you sound like you are reading a script. This puts people at ease and is a lot more enjoyable for you. Remember, this is a chance to educate a group of people who are interested in the work you do. 

Preparation and practice are the best way to get over presentation jitters.Rehearse until it’s natural and becomes more of a conversation. Record yourself on your iPhone (and force yourself to watch!). Check your body language, eliminate any distracting physical tics and work out any awkward turns of phrase (keep close watch for “um”, “uh”, etc.). The more you practice, the less rehearsed you will seem in front of the group. Try to re-create the actual room set up. Make sustained eye contact with each person (about 3-5 seconds each).  

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The key to sharing content? Be relevant, be brief, and be gone. These are busy people and you should not have any excess filler. This meeting is about what they need to know, not what you want to tell them. And if you are asked a question and don’t know the answer? Thank them for the question, tell them you don’t have that information on hand and you will get right back to them. And then follow up promptly. 

Be aware that it is not unusual for your allocated presentation time to be cut. Everyone presenting to a Board needs to be prepared for this to happen and understand it has nothing to do with you. Once I flew from California to New York to present to the board. I had an hour on the agenda to present a report on the results of a year-long program. After sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like a lifetime, I was told I had 15 minutes. Luckily, I had prepared for this and quickly cut out what might be considered extra info and focused only on the essentials. It went well and paved the way for future Board invitations.

You’ve got this. Enjoy!

Staying on top of your game - Today and Tomorrow

Last month I was asked by Compliance Week to write a piece about the ten skills needed by chief compliance officers of today. As you think about your new year’s resolutions, what is your greatest leadership challenge? Share it with meand we’ll address it in an upcoming issue.

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