Boss Lady

10 tips on how to present in the boardroom


There is a statistic that is used over and over again that the number one fear is to speak in public — an even greater fear than death. And for those who are not prepared this could be true.  So it’s natural to fear that you don’t know how to present in the boardroom.

At some stage many of you will stand at the front of the boardroom table and present to Directors, Senior Executives or Stakeholders.  This is your moment to ‘shine and share’ your research, ideas, project updates or even financials.  You — and maybe also your team — have worked hard to bring this information to the table. So it is critical that is imparted with professionalism and enthusiasm that will have those gathered around the table keen to learn more … and not doze off or become confused in what you are saying.

So what are the key points for how to present in the boardroom with success? It is all about preparation, practice and passion.  Here are some tips that will not only make your presentation a success in the Boardroom, but spoken about in the “hallways”.

1. Know your topic

And by know, we mean KNOW. Understand the information you are imparting, make sure you have asked questions of your team or review your findings again to ensure you have background information on the statistics.  Have a list of the main points at the presentation, to refer to — making sure you don’t forget something and stopping you from rambling and going off the subject.

Don’t read the slides, they are there as a supporting resource. It is your role to bring the data alive with real life scenarios and case studies.  There is nothing more boring than someone standing reading stats from a slide.  Don’t be that person.

2. Have the resources you need to support the points you are making in your presentation

If you need to show a product or a design have them with you, taking enough for everyone who will be at the presentation.

3. Have all your handouts printed and bound two days prior

Don’t leave it to the last minute. It’s inevitable that the printer will run out of ink or become jammed and there will be no-one around to help you pull out those tiny pieces of paper caught up in the hard to get to places of the printer. If you’re doing a digital handout, send it before the meeting to ensure everybody has it, and ask for email confirmation.

4. Test the AV equipment before the day with your laptop…

…to ensure it is compatible and you have all the correct leads and you practice using the remote pointer and slide changer.  There is nothing more unnerving when you haven’t used the equipment before and you can’t even change the first slide.  If you are using someone else’s laptop, ensure they have your correct presentation loaded and always bring along a usb drive with it on and your laptop just in case.  I always carry in my bag a small extension cord… it’s amazing how many times I have had to use it and it saves waiting for staff to locate one.

5. Pack your bag the morning before the presentation

If there is anything you need you still have time to get it.  You may think you could just walk into the room with an armful of papers, hoping for the best that everything you need someone else has arranged.  Don’t leave anything to chance.

6. Positive thinking

The mental preparation for your presentation actually starts days before, each time someone asks you about it say “yes I’m looking forward to presenting XYZ”, be confident don’t squirm and say “I’m really nervous”, positive thoughts empower you and stops the little voice inside your head saying “you failed in Year 3 when you had to say a poem at the end of year school assembly so why would it be different now”.  It will also give the naysayers something to think about.  Think positive and don’t let doubt creep in. 

7. What to wear, accessories and hair

Now is not the time to wear the new high heals and outfit, no matter how tempting, not without a trial at home first at least.  By all means try it on at home and take a look in the mirror while your practicing your presentation, as you raise your arms are any muffin tops visible or does the fabric gather in all the wrong places?!  Do the shoes tighten like a python around your little toes, to the point where they are burning?!  Do this a few days beforehand. If there is a wardrobe malfunction it’s better seen at home than in the Boardroom.  Accessories are to be professional not distracting, and have your hair styled in a manner that you won’t be fidgeting with it the whole time.

8. Arrive early

If possible go to the boardroom before the meeting and make sure that the equipment is set up and everything is working.  Have your bag there with all your resources and handouts within easy reach.  You don’t want to be fumbling for things with everyone waiting for you.  Work out where you will stand that won’t block the screen or have you standing in front of the AV beam.

9. Body language

[tweet_quote hashtags=”#presenting” ]When you enter the room remember to breathe, walk tall, be confident[/tweet_quote] (not cocky).  Take your seat and as the time comes closer for you to present, move forward in your chair and have one leg in front of the other, so you stand straight up and walk to the front of the table with your head held high – not unfolding yourself out of the chair and stumbling to the front as you knock into the backs of chairs and you fumble with papers.

10. Take stock

When in position, take a moment to just stand still. Make sure you can see each person has a copy of the handouts.  Don’t fidget, be confident. You know the information, so pause to get their attention and then advise them that you will be showing slides along with supporting information, which is in the document in front of them.  The majority of them at that moment will pick it up and take a look. Give them a few seconds to do this and then commence.

Have the sheet of points in front you to refer to.  If they ask questions, think about the answer and if you don’t know, be honest and say “that is a really good question, can I get back to you after the meeting, as I want to give you the correct information”.  Don’t make something up, you know you will get caught out.  There is nothing more embarrassing than standing in front of people when you have lost your credibility.

P.S.  You will feel nervous, even the best actors and presenters do for those first few seconds. It means you care and are presenting with true intent.  If you have practiced your presentation, prepared your resources and equipment and are passionate about the information you are imparting, then your presentation will be interesting to those listening and you will be confident.  Don’t rely on “hope and luck”.

If you follow these tips each time you present, you will [tweet_quote hashtags=”#presentingtips” ]become more confident and less fearful[/tweet_quote].  And remember … SMILE.

About Michelle Pascoe

Michelle Pascoe is a Professional Speaker, Trainer, Coach & Author who lives and breathes her passion for customer service, mystery shopping, and team motivation. She is an experienced businesswomen and specialist in every aspect of service operations and processes, and their impact on the customer experience. As an international speaker and accredited trainer and assessor, Michelle combines her extensive experience and specialised knowledge with an absolute commitment to igniting the potential in each and every individual so they can achieve outstanding results.

Recommended for you