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How to make sure your board presentation is a success

feature-presentation-200For a rising executive, a bad presentation to the board can kill your career progression, says Julie Garland McLellan, a corporate governance adviser and the chair of Oldfields Holdings.

Screw up your board presentation, and you can be tagged a no-hoper, shifted from department to department, and ever so slightly downwards.

But presenting to the board, while high-risk, can also boost your career. If you pull it off, it never hurts to be well-regarded at your company’s highest level.

This means ambitious executives need to know how to get in, and out, of the boardroom in one piece.

Boardrooms are notoriously difficult to present to because they’re unlike any audience people are likely to have come across before.

The first trick to not stuffing up a presentation to the board, Garland McLelland says, is to know when it’s not needed. “Why climb the mountain when the village is in the valley? Plenty of things don’t need to be taken to the board to be acted on.”

A company’s directors all bear personal liability for the workers and shareholders in a business, even when they have no direct control over events. “This is a breach of human rights,” Garland McLellan says wryly. “But it also makes for good corporate governance.”

This affects the dynamics of a board room. Everyone in the room is equal, and acts independently. “They aren’t a cohesive team. They’ll argue with each other, and with you,” she says.

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Myriam Robin


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Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.

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