I had a great conversation with one of my Emerging Leader clients today and she had just had her first ever opportunity to present to the Board of Directors of the fast growing technology company that she works with. She was ecstatic that her presentation had been well received and scored some points with her boss and with the members of the Board. She had asked me to prepare her for this opportunity and we had spent some time in preparation during our most recent coaching session. I was, of course, delighted for her, and just very proud of her overall. I thought I might share some of her experiences with you today. I gave her some coaching advice before her presentation to the board, and she said my insights helped her to feel focused and confident. I hope you find some value in them as well.
Present Like A Leader
I reminded her that her first presentation to the Board of Directors would establish her first impression with each Board Member and that she’d never get another opportunity like this first one to create a tremendous first impression. We talked about how she wanted to position herself, and we settled on these characteristics and agreed that she would embody them all as she presented: Dynamic, Enthusiastic, Proactive, Positive, Action-Oriented, and Intelligent. After discussing we agreed that her every move should be well-prepared in advance and that every statement and every action should be consistent with the company’s core values and first principles. She spent the time to be well-prepared and she delivered her presentation like a leader.
Don’t Shove 40 Pounds of Stuff Into A Ten Pound Bag
Often when we get our first chance to present to the Board of Directors, the Executive Leadership Team, or our Manager, we think we need to tell them EVERYTHING. This is a disastrous rookie mistake, much of the time. When you are called upon to present to the Board or the ELT, or your boss, they don’t have time for your life story, and they sure don’t have time to learn about EVERYTHING that you’ve accomplished or worked on in the last 12 months. Keep your remarks CLEAR, and for heaven’s sake, keep them CONCISE. When the BOD gives you twenty minutes to present, plan your presentation to be quick-hitting and deliver the high-level message in fifteen minutes allowing five for dialogue. Too often, a well-intentioned Emerging Leader will grind the BOD through an hour long presentation that is just a chaotic jumble of details that overwhelm the audience. Understand the reason that the BOD wants to hear from you. Prepare well, and deliver a clear and concise presentation that helps them to understand what they NEED to understand. No more. No less.
Leave Them Wanting More
My client understood that a ten-pound bag only accepts ten pounds of stuff. She also connected the dots and realized that overwhelming the board with too much information would frustrate them, instead of rallying them to want to hear more from her when the time was right. We talked about how when you enjoy a great movie you walk out of the theater hoping for the producer to put together a sequel because the experience was so good and so satisfying. We talked about how a great presentation to the BOD would leave them wanting to ask her boss to have her come to another meeting down the road. She kept her presentation clear, and concise, and she kept it positive and forward-thinking, which was where the Board’s heads were oriented, on the prospects of the future. She created value for the Board, and they appreciated it. When her presentation was done, the Chair of the Board thanked her for one of the best presentations they had seen in a long while and encouraged her to accelerate her activities because they were exactly what the BOD was hoping for. Several members of the Board commented to my client that they had heard great things about her, and now they had experienced her unique value firsthand. She was even given a round of applause when she thanked them for their attention and the positive feedback. Sounds like she hit a walk-off Grand Slam Home Run, doesn’t it?
To say that I was bursting with pride for my client’s tremendous accomplishment would have been the understatement of the year. She is a shooting star who will become a Senior VP soon, and then shortly after will begin acting for some lucky organization as a C-Suite Executive, and one day in a few years, she will get a position as a CEO, and become a celebrated CEO who delivers results and creates customer and shareholder value. She learned a lot of valuable lessons during the anticipation of this first ever Board of Directors interaction, and also in the preparation of her presentation. You have the opportunity to do the very same thing. Make sure your first interaction with a Board or with your company’s Executive Leadership Team is a strong, positive one.
Michael is a Master Leadership and Executive Development Coach. Michael’s organization, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting is a firm with 5 coaches, all of whom are focused on investing in their clients to help them to accelerate their growth and development into dynamic leaders who focus on the people in an organization as the ultimate growth strategy that will lead to greater results over time. If you’d like to learn more about the dynamic coaches at Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting just send an inquiry email to firstname.lastname@example.org.