Prepare properly for a Board presentation and it could be the key to advancing your career.
I’ve been talking in the past few weeks about how to get to know your audience before you begin. But I’d like to switch the focus for a bit to how to approach different types of audiences. Whether you’re trying to research your audience in advance or figure out how to position yourself when you speak, it makes a lot of difference who you’re presenting to and why. It matters whether you’re in a business or legal setting, whether you’re trying to apprise colleagues of some findings, sum up for a judge or jury, win a committee over on your project or put your case before the public. I’m going to pass along what I’ve learned in my ?? years as a speaker in a variety of settings.
Let’s start with one that can cause butterflies in even the most steel-lined stomachs: Making a presentation to a board of directors.
Scoring points with decision-makers
The members of a particular Board of Directors are a bit easier to research in general. For one thing, you’re usually dealing with a small number of people that you already know. In addition, Board Members are very often as familiar with your subject matter as you are. Obviously, that can be both an asset and a liability. In case it needs to be said, you never want to give sloppy material to the experts – they’ll spot your mistakes and grade you down for them.
When speaking to Boards you need to find out in advance what they really need to or want to get out of your presentation. If you’re approaching them with a proposal to form a business alliance with them, for example, you might want to find out how such partnerships have fared in the past. A few phone calls or emails in advance to select members is a good start. If you don’t have that access, find the person who does and have them do a sample survey of the Board for you. If you have someone on the inside of the company (or, better, on the Board itself), do what you can to mine as much information from them as possible.
Always read up on Board member bios and Google them to see if there are any recent accomplishments or press articles about them, especially if you are not already familiar with them. If you have the time, open up separate files on these Board members and try to memorize key details about the members. Then tailor your message to their interests and concerns. Again, meet their needs.
Boards are powerful and can be the key decision-makers in a given transaction. Prepare properly for a Board presentation and it could be the key to advancing your career.