13 Tips on How To Nail a Presentation To the Board of Directors

Martina Bretous

Published: January 13, 2021

In college, I always made it a point to listen intently to presentations. I knew how stressful and nerve-racking it was to present in a room of peers and authority figures.

board of directors listens to man's presentation

I would nod feverishly to let presenters know I was invested in their presentation. And they knew it too. They often zeroed in on me as I became their focus point and silent motivator. The fixation felt awkward at times, but that felt like one of my small contributions to society. That, and an endless supply of cat videos.

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Back then, the stakes were relatively low. But when you’re tasked with putting together a presentation to a board of directors, the pressure’s on.

But with a few tricks in your arsenal, you won’t need a sympathetic audience member to gauge how well you’re doing.

Let’s walk through some tips to prepare for your presentation and review some things to avoid.

How To Make a Presentation To the Board

  • Know your audience.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Structure your presentation.
  • Keep it concise.
  • Set up early.
  • Incorporate visuals into your presentation.
  • Focus on results.
  • Send materials beforehand.
  • Build confidence with your power outfit.
  • Rehearse your script.
  • Don't fall into the PowerPoint Trap.
  • Read the room.
  • Include time for questions.

1. Know your audience.

Knowing your listeners is as important as the content of your presentation. When you understand their priorities, you can put together a presentation that speaks directly to them.

If you don't know the board well, do some research and get answers to these questions:

What does the board care about?

This will help you see from what lens they look at things. For instance, a board keen on community impact may not be drawn to a presentation focused on return on investment (ROI).

There are a few ways to find this out. You can start by looking into each board member’s professional background. If most members have a finance background, for instance, you’ll want to make sure you cover any financials as it relates to your presentation. This could be cost, expected ROI, or operating margins.

You can also get some insight into what the board cares about by looking back at your interactions with its members. Think about the conversations you’ve had: What comes up most often? Is it company culture, profit, philanthropy, innovation, or something else?

What are their main concerns?

A board of directors is responsible for making decisions that will ensure the growth and sustainability of a company. So naturally, they will be looking out for anything that may impede that process.

Common concerns a board may have are:

  • Costs: How much time and money will it require?
  • Timeline: How long will this project take and is that timeline feasible?
  • Risks: How risky is your proposal and what is the risk-to-return ratio?

You may find that each board member has a different focus, which means your presentation should be well-rounded to tackle these issues.

Once you know this answer, you can subtly handle each concern throughout your presentation. Getting those answers will help you create a presentation that not only interests your audience but also aligns with their goals. This, in turn, will bring you much closer to accomplishing the plans laid out in your presentation.

2. Plan ahead.

The next step in delivering a great presentation is making a plan. This means figuring out the focus of your presentation, what you’ll cover, and what you’ll leave out.

A presentation should follow the structure of any good movie, with a beginning, middle, and an end. Here’s an example outline for a presentation where the head of the marketing team is proposing course offerings as a new lead generation channel.

Presentation outline example

The middle is the meat and potatoes of your presentation. You'll likely spend time providing data, contextualizing it, and explaining your approach.

Your ending should bring together your key points and leave your audience with actionable steps. Because what good is providing the information if you have no plan for what to do moving forward?

3. Structure your presentation based on the board’s process.

Not every board of directors operates in the same way. Sure, there are standard guidelines for every meeting. However, the approach may vary for presentations.

Some may operate more like a town hall, pausing periodically to discuss the points as they come up. In this case, leave room after each section of your presentation to discuss what was covered.

Others may follow the more standard approach: presentation followed by a discussion. Studies show that humans remember best the beginning and end of what they read, hear, and see. What’s in the middle tends to get lost. With that in mind, consider sharing your most pertinent information toward the beginning and end of your presentation.

4. Keep it concise.

One thing board members aren’t known for is open availability. That said, you want to make the most of your time with them. How do you do that? Stick to the scope of the presentation.

While it’s great to incorporate storytelling, avoid getting sidetracked and wasting time. Be clear and keep it simple.

If you’re showing data, only share one highlight per data graph. There are several reasons for this:

  • Data itself doesn’t tell a story. You, as the presenter, do. As such, you have to explain what it means and why it matters. Let’s say lead generation at your company has plateaued in the past year across all channels. That’s all the data says. But during your research, you realize it’s due to a shift in how your audience is consuming information. Your role is to present the data and explain the "why" behind the plateau along with a solution.
  • You want to prevent information overload. Share the piece of data that best supports your points and has the most impact. For instance, if a new lead generation channel is the focus of your presentation, diving into the specifics of another channel may not be worth your time.

If you leave it to your audience to make sense of the data, they might reach a conclusion that doesn’t align with your message.

5. Set up early.

There’s nothing more awkward than silence during a technical difficulty.

Everyone’s looking at you while you’re figuring out why technology has forsaken you. The more time the issue takes to resolve, the more panicked you get. We’ve all been there.

To avoid this, set up early and do a run-through before your scheduled presentation time. It’ll give you time to get familiar with the space and any technology you’ll need to run during your presentation.

6. Incorporate visuals into your presentation.

When choosing between words and media, pick the latter.

Visuals help us make sense of information at a much quicker pace than words do. We’re also better at remembering what we see versus what we hear by 55% – it’s called pictorial superiority .

It’s also beneficial to keep your visuals simple. If you have too much going on, your audience will be confused. But if it’s too bare, it will take too many visuals to paint the picture. So, pull your most significant data and use data visualization tools to design intuitive graphics.

7. Focus on results.

A board of directors typically focuses on big-picture decisions that will have a long-term impact on the company.

In this vein, every piece of your presentation should get you closer to answering these questions:

  • " Why does this matter? "
  • " What is the long-term impact? "
  • " How does this bring the company closer to its goals? "
  • " Any potential roadblocks? How will you address them? "

Incorporating these answers into your presentation will set you up for a smoother Q&A session.

8. Send materials beforehand.

Depending on what you’ll be covering in your presentation, it may be helpful to send the board materials to review in advance. This should only be supplemental information that would be too time-consuming or distracting to cover in a presentation, like reports and demos. This way, the focus during the presentation will be on the "why" and not the "how."

The one material you don’t want to send is your presentation, as you want to be the one to contextualize it. Otherwise, the board might form an opinion based on limited information.

A week before the meeting is a good rule of thumb, leaving room for you to respond to initial comments or feedback.

Think of this process as an advantage. You get insight into what the board members may bring up during the meeting and more context to prep. Secondly, it ensures everyone is on the same page ahead of the meeting. That way, you can dive straight into key points during your presentation without covering minute details.

9. Build confidence with your power outfit.

Building confidence is one of the less concrete tips on the list to implement. But the good news is, there are research-backed techniques you can use to achieve it. One of them is right within your reach: clothing.

Many of us can relate to the feeling of trying on clothes in a fitting room and feeling like a million bucks. It tends to put us in a better mood and shift our perspective.

Well, turns out there’s a reason for this. In 2012, two researchers coined the term " enclothed cognition " to refer to the impact clothes can have on the psyche. They found that the clothes we wear can shift our perspective.

In that spirit, put on your best blazer or suit the day of your presentation. That outfit may be just the boost you need.

10. Rehearse your script.

During a presentation with a board of directors, you want to avoid the Michael Scott approach at all costs.

Instead, go the exact opposite route: practice. Practice is the cure to presentation jitters and the formula for seamless delivery. The more familiar you become with your content, the better the presentation will be.

If it’s been a while since your last presentation, start by practicing in the mirror. You’ll immediately notice any mannerisms that may be distracting to your audience. Recording yourself also works great.

Then, practice in front of an audience. And, unfortunately, your dog won’t cut it for this one. Practice with family or friends who can give you feedback on how to improve.

And remember: You’re the only one who knows your speech and presentation. So, if you mess up or forget to mention something, you’re likely the only one who noticed.

11. Don’t fall into the PowerPoint trap.

You’ll likely use a tool like PowerPoint to guide you during your presentation. Yet, it’s important that you don’t overly depend on it.

For instance, packing your slides with heavy text or bullet points is a surefire way to lose your audience. In fact, 40% of respondents in a 2018 study by Prezi said it caused disengagement and made it harder to retain information.

So, stick to one key point on each slide. It’s easier for your audience to remember and prevents information overload.

12. Read the room.

Even if you follow every tip listed above, you might hit a point in your presentation where there’s a disconnect between you and your audience. You might notice confused looks or a shift in body language. If that happens, that’s your cue to pivot.

If your audience seems confused, dive in a little bit deeper on your point. If you sense disagreement, tackle those concerns head-on.

Let’s say you’re proposing a new initiative for the company, and you sense some pushback on the timeline.

You can address it by saying something along the lines of, " You may have some concern regarding the timeline and whether it’s feasible given our current projects. While the timeline may seem tight, we have factored in X, Y, and Z, and, given our past initiatives, we believe this timeline will account for A, B, and C ."

A response like this can mitigate the situation while still keeping you on track.

13. Include time for questions.

As a foodie, dinner for me isn’t complete without a good piece of chocolate. Whether it’s a KitKat or a chocolate cake, having chocolate after dinner feels like the perfect ending. Q&A sessions are kind of like that. It’s the audience’s chance to ask questions and discuss the presentation.

Be ready for questions regarding the data and solutions you presented. The length of the Q&A session will vary depending on the length of your presentation, the size of the board, and other factors.

Additionally, it’s your opportunity to address any looming concerns and re-emphasize your key points. Not sure what to do if you don’t have an answer to something? Here are a few responses:

  • "That’s a great question. I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but I will follow up over email by end of day."
  • "I don’t have much experience in that X [topic/department/]. However, I will reach out to X and get back to you within a week."
  • "We haven’t explored that yet, but what I can tell you is …"
  • "That’s a great point we hadn’t considered before. My team and I will reconvene and strategize on the best way to approach this."

When the stakes are so high, a presentation to the board can seem daunting. By incorporating these tips into your strategy, you can remove the stress and focus instead on your delivery.

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3 Ways to Nail Your Presentation to the Board

  • Daniel Casse

effective board presentations

No one wants a bored board.

The boardroom is a distinct forum that requires a different type of presentation and preparation. In this article, the author outlines three practices every business leader should embrace to enhance their board presentations: 1) Start with a governing thesis: a big idea or perspective that captures the main point of the discussion. Presentations that start this way leave the audience with a compelling message. 2) Understand that the CEO is not the target audience. A board presentation has to provide some quick refreshers on the operating environment and — more importantly — identify the biggest problems that need fixing. 3) Steer the presentation toward getting valuable feedback. Instead of concluding remarks that restate key business results, share two or three important ideas that will drive future success and concerns that could benefit from director input. The goal: Get the board’s validation or critiques of a proposed course of action. The result, invariably, is a mix of candid feedback and intelligent, probing questions that create thoughtful board engagement.

For most executives, even those at the most senior level, a presentation to the board of directors is the most demanding test of leadership communications. Very few succeed.

effective board presentations

  • DC Daniel Casse is the president of G100 Chief Executive, a group of public and private company CEOs that has been meeting for 20 years. He is also president and managing partner of High Lantern Group, a strategy and communications firm.

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How to Give a Winning Presentation to Your Board of Directors in 2023

February 27, 2023

Presenting to the board can feel daunting.  But at the same time it’s a great opportunity to stand out and impress: you can showcase yourself with your board presentation. In this article you have ten specific tips to improve your board of directors presentations.

One of your biggest challenges when presenting to a board is knowing at what level to present.  do you need to outline the background  should you cover all the detail do you need to address every objection  for this reason, people often struggle to make their board presentation work..

The most important thing to understand is that board members want answers, not problems .  They do not want to mark your homework; they want to make decisions based on your expert advice. 

This means you will present successfully to a board if you follow a few simple rules. This is important because presenting to the board is a core business skill.

To help you master the skills of a board presentation, our coaches have shared their top ten lessons for creating and delivering killer board presentations .  Their advice is based on over 15 years of successfully coaching senior managers globally.

Contact us for a free consultation on your training needs

    Top ten tips for presenting to the board

  • Your board wants answers, not problems
  • Keep your board presentation short
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Tell the board how important their decision is
  • Your board presentation is often won before the board meeting
  • You are the expert
  • Minimise use of visual aids in your board presentation
  • Use stories and examples
  • Make your presentation easy for the board, and fun
  • Prepare your boardroom presentation rigorously

1. Your board wants answers, not problems

Imagine being a board director. You have huge responsibilities. Your brief is wide and you regularly need to make decisions based on limited knowledge.  When someone presents to you at a board meeting you want to know that you are listening to an expert.  You want them to give you advice.  What you don’t want is someone who sits on the fence and says ‘on the one hand – on the other hand…’ without reaching a conclusion.

As a presenter you need to do the hard work for the board so that your presentation lays out clearly what the issues are, why they are important and what should be done. If you are very good you will also look at alternative approaches and argue why those will not work. You may also assess risks. 

By taking this approach you show that you understand the issues and that the board can rely on your good judgement. 

2. Keep your board presentation short

Most board directors are very busy and have a huge amount on their plate.  When presenting to them your job is to make it easy for the board to make decisions .  You’ll find that you will be most successful if you say less, and say it better.  What do I mean by that? Don’t waste time stating the obvious. You do not need to tell them that climate change is a big issue or that the war in Ukraine has increased energy prices. 

You will look more impressive when you present if you build on the board’s existing knowledge rather them telling them stuff they know already. 

3. Your board presentation should get to the point quickly

What do you say in the opening words of your board presentations ? How do you grab attention and show that what you are saying will be valuable to the board?  If you want to impress you want to quickly lay out why you are there and what you are looking for from the board members. The quicker you get to the meat of the topic the better.   Do not start with extensive background and never leave the punchline to your closing words. 

If you lay out your ‘ask’ at the very start of your board presentation then each board member will listen more attentively to what you are saying and better understand how everything you say points to your conclusion. 

Only bad presentations leave the ‘ask’ to the very end.

Another way to make your board feel comfortable is to start by talking about things in which they believe. For example, if you start your presentation by stating that the world is flat, you will alienate most people. Instead, you want to get your board members nodding along with you towards the start of your board presentation – so long as you are not stating the obvious.

4. Tell the board their decision is important

As we said above, your board members are busy people . To get the result you want, you should put their decision in context.  For instance, what would be the result of delaying a decision? What is the impact on the bottom line of the right decision?  How big a risk is making the wrong decision?  These are the sort of questions you want to address relatively early in your board presentation. If you tell your board the danger of failure is important, high risk and expensive, you’ll grab their attention.

For example, one client recently was presenting to the board to get final budget approval for a major office move.  She was worried that the board would simply end up discussing who would get the corner offices and what colour the chairs would be.  So, to show them how important their decision was, she started: “This £50m decision is one of the biggest decisions this board has made.  And it impacts the lives of our 2,000 colleagues.”  After that, nobody would dare get lost in trivial detail. 

5. Your board presentation is often won before the board meeting

Surprises at board meetings are high risk. In reality, the biggest board decisions are generally agreed well before the board meeting. You should use the board presentation for final sign-off and approval only.

For example, how many board members or key people can you speak to before your board presentation?  The more people you consult and listen to before the board meeting, the better you will succeed.  If everyone on the board feels they have been involved and agrees with what you are presenting, you will be more likely to carry the board with you. 

If people have raised objections in your discussions before the board meeting, then address those objections in your presentation.  People want to be heard and appreciated.

6. You are the expert when presenting to the board

While many of the board may be strong, daunting figures, they are unlikely to be experts in your specialist area.  You are presenting because you have expertise . If you don’t know more than them, then you are not the right person to be presenting, or you are looking at the wrong thing.  You should be educating the board members – they should learn from you. 

7. Minimise use of visual aids in board presentations

You can waste a huge amount of time preparing PowerPoint.  But PowerPoint slides usually reduce your impact in board presentations .  Instead, put your efforts into a high-quality board note and a short, punchy summary talk.

Some things you should work on instead:

– Use language that makes your board comfortable.  For example, what’s most important to them? Is it sales, profits, margins, safety, cash flow?  Talk about what matters to them. 

– What metaphors do they use in the board? Do they talk about driving the business? Do they talk about nurturing and growing the company? Or do they talk about battling the competition and fighting market conditions? When you use the board’s own favourite metaphors, you will be speaking their language.

8. Use stories and examples when presenting to the board

One of my favourite sayings for pitches and presentations is: “Facts get forgotten, but stories get repeated”. A good story is usually more compelling than the most convincing numbers. Yet too many board presentations fail to apply the power of a compelling story.

A good story in your presentation to the board can be a multi-tool. It can do many jobs at once. A powerful story can help bring to life a complex idea. A story can make it easy for a board member to understand what drives your recommendation and a strong story will give the board member something they will remember and repeat.

We’ve written a few good articles on how to use business storytelling and this is one of my favourites .

9. Make your boardroom presentation easy for the board, and fun

One common mistake when presenting to the board is to make your presentation too long and too complicated .  Just because you are smart and your board members are smart does not mean that your board presentation needs to show how much work you have done. Complexity is off-putting. The human brain loves simplicity . A board presentation should be made simple for your audience.

Having worked on hundreds of successful board presentations, we are often surprised how simple the best presentations are. But making complex presentations simple is hard. Anybody can fill a presentation with detail. It takes real skill to convince your board with just a handful of smart ideas and cast-iron logic.

10. Prepare your boardroom presentation rigorously

Test your board presentation on other people.  Show it to your boss. Ask people to pick holes in your arguments.  Be tough on yourself.  Keep working at it and fixing it until you are completely happy.  And practise it out loud.  Not to memorise it, but to check if it is good enough.  You should be fixing and changing your presentation up until the last minute.     

For you to be successful in your board presentations, you want to be well prepared.   So many people bring in a coach to help them prepare. That way you can stress-test your ideas, rehearse and improve your presentation , then go into the board feeling confident that you are ready. 

How do you do this?  Call us.   We spend our lives polishing board presentations.

With advice and coaching we add value by making board presentations compelling and valuable. For instance, we’ve been transforming board presentations for 15 years and we do it for some of the most successful businesses in the world.

If you want help preparing your next board presentation, then get in touch. Call Louise Angus, our client services director, for a no-obligation chat about how we can add value to your board-level presentations.

Learn more about executive presentation coaching

Learn how to create a stand out board presentation

About Benjamin Ball Associates

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At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email [email protected] to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.

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4 Tips to Plan Effective Nonprofit Board Presentations

4 Tips to Plan Effective Nonprofit Board Presentations

What Are Effective Presentation Skills (and How to Improve Them)

Presentation skills are essential for your personal and professional life. Learn about effective presentations and how to boost your presenting techniques.

[Featured Image]: The marketing manager, wearing a yellow top, is making a PowerPoint presentation.

At least seven out of 10 Americans agree that presentation skills are essential for a successful career [ 1 ]. Although it might be tempting to think that these are skills reserved for people interested in public speaking roles, they're critical in a diverse range of jobs. For example, you might need to brief your supervisor on research results.

Presentation skills are also essential in other scenarios, including working with a team and explaining your thought process, walking clients through project ideas and timelines, and highlighting your strengths and achievements to your manager during performance reviews.

Whatever the scenario, you have very little time to capture your audience’s attention and get your point across when presenting information—about three seconds, according to research [ 2 ]. Effective presentation skills help you get your point across and connect with the people you’re communicating with, which is why nearly every employer requires them.

Understanding what presentation skills are is only half the battle. Honing your presenting techniques is essential for mastering presentations of all kinds and in all settings.

What are presentation skills?

Presentation skills are the abilities and qualities necessary for creating and delivering a compelling presentation that effectively communicates information and ideas. They encompass what you say, how you structure it, and the materials you include to support what you say, such as slides, videos, or images.

You'll make presentations at various times in your life. Examples include:

Making speeches at a wedding, conference, or another event

Making a toast at a dinner or event

Explaining projects to a team 

Delivering results and findings to management teams

Teaching people specific methods or information

Proposing a vote at community group meetings

Pitching a new idea or business to potential partners or investors

Why are presentation skills important? 

Delivering effective presentations is critical in your professional and personal life. You’ll need to hone your presentation skills in various areas, such as when giving a speech, convincing your partner to make a substantial purchase, and talking to friends and family about an important situation.

No matter if you’re using them in a personal or professional setting, these are the skills that make it easier and more effective to convey your ideas, convince or persuade others, and experience success. A few of the benefits that often accompany improving your presentation skills include:

Enriched written and verbal communication skills

Enhanced confidence and self-image

Boosted critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities

Better motivational techniques

Increased leadership skills

Expanded time management, negotiation, and creativity

The better your presenting techniques, the more engaging your presentations will be. You could also have greater opportunities to make positive impacts in business and other areas of your life.

Effective presentation skills

Imagine yourself in the audience at a TED Talk or sitting with your coworkers at a big meeting held by your employer. What would you be looking for in how they deliver their message? What would make you feel engaged?

These are a few questions to ask yourself as you review this list of some of the most effective presentation skills.

Verbal communication

How you use language and deliver messages play essential roles in how your audience will receive your presentation. Speak clearly and confidently, projecting your voice enough to ensure everyone can hear. Think before you speak, pausing when necessary and tailoring the way you talk to resonate with your particular audience.

Body language

Body language combines various critical elements, including posture, gestures, eye contact, expressions, and position in front of the audience. Body language is one of the elements that can instantly transform a presentation that would otherwise be dull into one that's dynamic and interesting.

Voice projection

The ability to project your voice improves your presentation by allowing your audience to hear what you're saying. It also increases your confidence to help settle any lingering nerves while also making your message more engaging. To project your voice, stand comfortably with your shoulders back. Take deep breaths to power your speaking voice and ensure you enunciate every syllable you speak.

How you present yourself plays a role in your body language and ability to project your voice. It also sets the tone for the presentation. Avoid slouching or looking overly tense. Instead, remain open, upright, and adaptable while taking the formality of the occasion into account.


Incorporating storytelling into a presentation is an effective strategy used by many powerful public speakers. It has the power to bring your subject to life and pique the audience’s curiosity. Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story, slowly building up suspense or adding a dramatic moment. And, of course, be sure to end with a positive takeaway to drive your point home.

Active listening

Active listening is a valuable skill all on its own. When you understand and thoughtfully respond to what you hear—whether it's in a conversation or during a presentation—you’ll likely deepen your personal relationships and actively engage audiences during a presentation. As part of your presentation skill set, it helps catch and maintain the audience’s attention, helping them remain focused while minimizing passive response, ensuring the message is delivered correctly, and encouraging a call to action.

Stage presence

During a presentation, projecting confidence can help keep your audience engaged. Stage presence can help you connect with your audience and encourage them to want to watch you. To improve your presence, try amping up your normal demeanor by infusing it with a bit of enthusiasm. Project confidence and keep your information interesting.

Watch your audience as you’re presenting. If you’re holding their attention, it likely means you’re connecting well with them.


Monitoring your own emotions and reactions will allow you to react well in various situations. It helps you remain personable throughout your presentation and handle feedback well. Self-awareness can help soothe nervousness during presentations, allowing you to perform more effectively.

Writing skills

Writing is a form of presentation. Sharp writing skills can help you master your presentation’s outline to ensure you stay on message and remain clear about your objectives from the beginning until the end. It’s also helpful to have strong writing abilities for creating compelling slides and other visual aids.

Understanding an audience

When you understand your audience's needs and interests, you can design your presentation around them. In turn, you'll deliver maximum value to them and enhance your ability to make your message easy to understand.

Learn more about presentation skills from industry experts at SAP:

How to improve presentation skills

There’s an art to public speaking. Just like any other type of art, this is one that requires practice. Improving your presentation skills will help reduce miscommunications, enhance your time management capabilities, and boost your leadership skills. Here are some ways you can improve these skills:

Work on self-confidence.

When you’re confident, you naturally speak more clearly and with more authority. Taking the time to prepare your presentation with a strong opening and compelling visual aids can help you feel more confident. Other ways to improve your self-confidence include practicing positive self-talk, surrounding yourself with positive people, and avoiding comparing yourself (or your presentation) to others.

Develop strategies for overcoming fear.

Many people are nervous or fearful before giving a presentation. A bad memory of a past performance or insufficient self-confidence can contribute to fear and anxiety. Having a few go-to strategies like deep breathing, practicing your presentation, and grounding can help you transform that fear into extra energy to put into your stage presence.

Learn grounding techniques.

Grounding is any type of technique that helps you steer your focus away from distressing thoughts and keeps you connected with your present self. To ground yourself, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and imagine you’re a large, mature tree with roots extending deep into the earth—like the tree, you can become unshakable.

Learn how to use presentation tools.

Visual aids and other technical support can transform an otherwise good presentation into a wow-worthy one. A few popular presentation tools include:

Canva: Provides easy-to-design templates you can customize

Powtoon: Animation software that makes video creation fast and easy

PowerPoint: Microsoft's iconic program popular for dynamic marketing and sales presentations

Practice breathing techniques.

Breathing techniques can help quell anxiety, making it easier to shake off pre-presentation jitters and nerves. It also helps relax your muscles and get more oxygen to your brain.  For some pre-presentation calmness, you can take deep breaths, slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

While presenting, breathe in through your mouth with the back of your tongue relaxed so your audience doesn't hear a gasping sound. Speak on your exhalation, maintaining a smooth voice.

Gain experience.

The more you practice, the better you’ll become. The more you doanything, the more comfortable you’ll feel engaging in that activity. Presentations are no different. Repeatedly practicing your own presentation also offers the opportunity to get feedback from other people and tweak your style and content as needed.

Tips to help you ace your presentation

Your presentation isn’t about you; it’s about the material you’re presenting. Sometimes, reminding yourself of this ahead of taking center stage can help take you out of your head, allowing you to connect effectively with your audience. The following are some of the many actions you can take on the day of your presentation.

Arrive early.

Since you may have a bit of presentation-related anxiety, it’s important to avoid adding travel stress. Give yourself an abundance of time to arrive at your destination, and take into account heavy traffic and other unforeseen events. By arriving early, you also give yourself time to meet with any on-site technicians, test your equipment, and connect with people ahead of the presentation.

Become familiar with the layout of the room.

Arriving early also gives you time to assess the room and figure out where you want to stand. Experiment with the acoustics to determine how loudly you need to project your voice, and test your equipment to make sure everything connects and appears properly with the available setup. This is an excellent opportunity to work out any last-minute concerns and move around to familiarize yourself with the setting for improved stage presence.

Listen to presenters ahead of you.

When you watch others present, you'll get a feel for the room's acoustics and lighting. You can also listen for any data that’s relevant to your presentation and revisit it during your presentation—this can make the presentation more interactive and engaging.

Use note cards.

Writing yourself a script could provide you with more comfort. To prevent sounding too robotic or disengaged, only include talking points in your note cards in case you get off track. Using note cards can help keep your presentation organized while sounding more authentic to your audience.

Learn to deliver clear and confident presentations with Dynamic Public Speaking from the University of Washington. Build confidence, develop new delivery techniques, and practice strategies for crafting compelling presentations for different purposes, occasions, and audiences.

Article sources

Forbes. “ New Survey: 70% Say Presentation Skills are Critical for Career Success , https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/09/25/new-survey-70-percent-say-presentation-skills-critical-for-career-success/?sh=619f3ff78890.” Accessed December 7, 2022.

Beautiful.ai. “ 15 Presentation and Public Speaking Stats You Need to Know , https://www.beautiful.ai/blog/15-presentation-and-public-speaking-stats-you-need-to-know. Accessed December 7, 2022.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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How to Deliver Flawless and High Impact Board Presentations

Spending endless hours building your board report is old news. Cut short prep time to focus on communicating progress at your next board meeting.

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Create flexible and predictable sales forecasts

How to Deliver Flawless and High Impact Board Presentations

“A good Board Of Directors team is one where ideas are flowing fluidly - and where each idea is met with an initial welcome, an intellectual challenge, an expression of gratitude, a rigorous scrutiny and a readiness for action.” - Hendrith Vanlon Smith, Jr.

For founders, board meetings are a polarizing subject.

Entrepreneur magazine reported how only 43% of CEOs found true value or had a positive experience during a board meeting. Yet, these meetings are absolutely vital to the health of an organization.

From monitoring company progress to reviewing the P&L and weighing in on decisions, the board of directors have their work cut out in positively impacting the future of the business. This short period of time is therefore highly structured and topic-heavy.

That’s why it helps for founders, executives, and anyone else presenting at a board meeting to focus on two key objectives: communicating value and maintaining accuracy.

The missed opportunity lurking in board meetings

The board of directors play three key roles, according to business mogul, Warren Buffet:

  • Mentor the CEO and ensure the right fit for the company
  • Steer decisions in the right direction
  • Weigh in and have balanced discussions on the economics of each strategic move

However, there is at times a disconnect between the board and the presenters at a board meeting. Whereas the board is most effective when providing independent judgment on key challenges, things can get a little passive and surface-level unless the presentation is structured in such a way that derives maximum benefit.

For example, when executives teams come to board meetings with their minds made up on potential decisions, presentations tend to feature data that paints a particular picture.

But what’s lurking in the supposed mess of data that may be overlooked for vanity metrics? There could exist the seed of the next industry-breaking innovation, if only the right data was presented and the right conversations were had.

The route to such impactful board meetings lies in time management, data wealth, and using the right tools for effective communication.

What stands in the way of effective board presentations

Board meeting prep starts well ahead of the actual presentation date, anywhere from a few days to several weeks in advance. This makes sense, given the amount of pre-read materials going out before D-Day.

Yet somehow, all the time in the world doesn't seem to be enough to tweak that deck or those pesky numbers just right. Why?

Data wrangling takes forever

You’re fetching data from several different sources, each dataset likely prepared by a different department.

Not only do you have to double-check each number for accuracy, misaligned teams might be defining the same number in different ways .

The result is essentially a huge portion of time spent on validating data and getting cross-functional teams to agree on them. And after all that effort, there’s still space for human error.

It’s a pain to refresh your numbers

The nature of data is fluid. It changes, often faster, than the rate at which your business transforms.

For companies growing at a rapid pace, this means revisions, endless versioning, and inevitable long hours spent on mundane tasks. Even when delegated, it can quickly grow frustrating to have to constantly revise not only the numbers, but also the overall story they tell.

Speaking of the story:

  • Bird’s eye view of the state of the business
  • Deep-dive into the Profit & Loss statement (P&L)
  • Hiring and operational updates
  • Spotlight and drill-down into an outstanding challenge or topic
  • Interesting customer stories and customer health updates

This flow covers all the bases, transparently sharing business updates and progress against growth goals while also going beyond surface-level on a few key topics.

However, the latter part of this flow often gets neglected, with discussions centering around mainly reporting metrics.

And when said metrics poorly represent true business impact, they tend to be distracting. This results in deviating conversations that cast a shadow over the real challenges or progress of the company.

A way forward for error-free board presentations that drive home an impactful message

To recap, we’ve covered how

  • Board meetings are an opportunity to have meaningful conversations and exchange ideas
  • These conversations end up meandering, or never happening, due to ineffective presentations
  • The culprit behind ineffective board presentations is data wrangling and inaccuracy, constant refreshes, and narratives lost behind vanity reporting — three factors grouped together as “lack of time”

How do you move forward?

Well, the first step in finding a solution is acknowledging the problem, and then taking concrete steps to mitigate the problem. Here’s a checklist you can use to work towards better board presentations:

Disclaimer: this checklist works best when you’ve implemented Pigment for your business planning lifecycle, but you can still follow the line items to achieve significant improvements.

1. Ensure data accuracy by integrating with your entire tech stack

That’s right, the first step towards better board presentations starts with how you source your data.

Your CRM and ERP , or your billing and accounting systems, even just a data warehouse, all hold key data that is usually manually exported and imported into wherever you conduct analyses.

But this manual intervention is a recipe for error. Moreover, it’s completely unnecessary in today’s world: not only can modern business planning platforms integrate with all your data sources, you can also schedule data to be fed into your business models for timely, accurate data.

Final note, access rights is an extremely important topic at this stage. Implementing access rights will prevent people from viewing or modifying data unless it is appropriate for their role.

2. Enable cross-functional alignment by empowering your teams to collaborate on data

Teams are actually more aligned than you think. They are united by the common mission and vision of the organization, and (ideally) are working towards the same key results.

Misalignment occurs when teams aren’t provided the means to collaborate productively within a platform that serves as the single source of truth.

Achieving this alignment means that your business leaders are reporting with data that syncs together to form one comprehensive picture. When you achieve this level of data cohesion, your board presentation will almost craft itself.

It’s also a good look to have in front of your board—a culture of business partnership and cross-functional leaders working together for the betterment of the company.

3. Unify your data under overarching business objectives

You’ve integrated your data and aligned your team. What next? Tie it all together in a beautiful presentation that tells the story of your long-term business objectives.

This is best understood with an example, so here’s one: market downturns.

Say you’re a startup with aggressive growth goals—when all of a sudden, the tables turn. Everyone’s talking recession and downturns and now your board wants to know how you plan to address the economic situation while still meeting goals.

First off, it helps to know that the data you’re working with is timely, accurate, and synchronized across all departments of the company. Now, you can craft a narrative that addresses your short-term hiring plans and expense policies, for example. You can supplement your standard metrics by narrowing in on profitability or capital efficiency .

In summary, your board presentation should move past shallow or repetitive reporting into strong storytelling that inspires helpful conversations and drives critical decisions.

4. Automate your data refreshes to save valuable time

Here’s a neat hack: did you know you can bypass the dance of manual data exports?

No longer do you have to export data from your planning platform into spreadsheets, and then update each page of your presentation deck. Pigment’s Google Sheets connector does it all for you at the click of a button.

Pigment Google Sheets connector

Just like data integrations and automatic imports can shorten data preparation time, tools like the Google Sheets connector can reduce the time you spend on massaging data into a presentation.

This gives you the added benefit of being to incorporate last minute changes, resulting in the most accurate picture to present to your board.

Utilize the time saved to incorporate topic drill-downs or deeper analyses of key issues that would benefit from discussion from your board.

Board meetings don’t have to be scary, high-risk events. Building the initial infrastructure for data accuracy and timeliness, combined with investment in the right technology, can cut data prep time by as much as 80%, leaving you with time to focus on effectively communicating your progress and aspirations to your board.

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The Secrets to a Successful Board Presentation

November 17, 2014 / Blog board presentations, presentation tips

As you know, delivering a presentation can be challenging. You have plenty to prepare and accomplish before facing the audience. You need to prepare your talking points and make sure your data is well represented through visual aids.

Since there’s a lot at stake, you might feel a lot of stress and pressure to achieve the best outcome. However, this feeling usually doubles when you’re expected to address a corporate board. For a lot of professionals, board presentations can be a fear-inducing event since there’s very little room for error.

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Board members have the power to make or break the ideas you put forward. If you’re successful, the decisions they make as a result of your presentation has the potential to propel your career forward. Despite the anxiety you feel because of it, board presentations are a wonderful opportunity. To make the most out of it, you need to prepare well-developed ideas backed up by hard facts and data.

As public speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall writes ,

Members of boards are generally very smart, experienced, and successful professionals. …They usually grasp ideas and issues very quickly and ask penetrating questions. In addition, board members are often very busy and don’t like to waste time. They want and expect concise presentations as well as crisp and accurate responses to difficult and complex questions.

If you want to make sure that your ideas survive their scrutiny, you need to be in control of what you say and show them. Here are a few tips that might help you unlock the secret to a successful board presentation:

Craft your core message carefully

Board members aren’t very interested in long discussions. They want to see a presentation that’s well-structured and straight to the point. For that, you need to set a clear direction for your presentation. It’s important to identify and craft your core message. This will be the main idea behind your presentation. The anchor that will keep your presentation from floating wayward .

Ask yourself some key questions to make sure you’re on the right track. What are you trying to say? What are the members expecting from you? Why did they invite you to speak in the first place? Do they want to hear a status report? Are you requesting funds for a new project? The word “craft” suggests careful attention to details, so make sure you consider every information you may have available.

Keep your talking points short

Board members often have busy schedules, and you won’t have a lot of time to explain everything and go into detail. If you want to complete the presentation you planned, you need to make sure that you get straight to the point. Draft your report and include only the things that are pertinent for the members to know. Any detailed explanations can be written on an accompanying report or handout. According to  Norbert Kubilus of Tatum CIO Partners , it’s wise to keep your presentation under the allotted time. Try to shoot for at least 3/4 of the schedule to give yourself plenty of time to address questions.

Create visuals that are clear and concise

The slides you present should highlight the message you’re delivering. Like your talking points, your visuals should be clear and straight to the point. Unless you want your audience to tune out, it never helps to dump all your information and data on a PowerPoint presentation. One way you can keep your board presentations engaging is by investing time on creating visuals that are clear and concise. Use images and illustrations to bring life to your points . Translate your data into charts that are easy to comprehend. You can take a look at our portfolio for examples.

Give yourself time to rehearse

It never hurts to practice your board presentation, especially if you’re feeling pretty nervous about it. Rehearsals will help you feel more comfortable once you’re finally in front of the board members. After practicing the way you speak and present yourself, you’ll feel a lot more in control of the situation you’re in. Rehearsals are also good for memorizing your talking points . If you don’t want to bother with cue cards, practice as much as you can.

Aside from practicing your talking points, you should also consider how you’ll address possible questions . It’s common for board members to interrupt presentations to ask for more details. Try to identify which questions you’re most likely to get and start practicing how to answer them.

Be ready to improvise

With most presentations, your role as presenter is to address and inform the audience. The scenario is quite different when it comes to board presentations. As Stephanie Overby writes , “presenting to the board is less about you addressing an audience than it is about the audience addressing you”. Your role here is to present ideas that will be useful for the board. That means that you’ll have to address questions in the middle of your presentation, or that you might have to go back to a previous slide to provide details. Sometimes, you might also get a question you don’t have the answer for.

You can’t possibly prepare for everything that might happen, so stay alert and be ready to improvise . Make sure you know every aspect of your presentation well. Study the data you have, even if you can’t include everything in your slides. If you’re faced with a question you can’t answer, be honest about it. Acknowledge that you don’t have the answer and that you’ll follow up with them as soon as you can.

While a board presentation can be nerve-racking, it’s also a great opportunity that can forward your career. Make the most out of it by preparing as much as you can. Follow these tips to fine-tune every aspect of your presentation. Careful planning can help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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Effective board meetings with pertinent presentations

A large automotive supplier: weekly board meetings on mondays..

board meetings and presentations_

A bank. Procedure: Board submissions are prepared one week before the meeting in Word.

All the presenters are certainly doing their best – not just because they’re presenting to the board of directors, but because they want to achieve their goals. However, the documents and the way they’re presented often fail to provide the rapid, well-balanced information that the board needs.

The result: discussions provide no clear outcome and key decisions get postponed.

decisions in meetings

The rocky road to board presentations

When we work with clients on this problem, a closer look usually reveals a multilevel problem:

  • The board is not happy with the quality of the submitted/presented documents.
  • The presenters (usually top and mid-level management) are unsure how to structure their submissions. What does the board expect? What to include, what to leave out?
  • These presenters are also on the receiving end of documents, such as slides supplied by their departments, typically of varying quality.
  • And their staff are also not really sure what their boss, or boss’s boss, or the board itself, really wants.

Board meetings preperation

Prestructured board submission templates provide clarity

The solution lies in clear guidelines and a clearly specified structure. Apart from having a general schema, it’s often worth providing specific templates for frequently recurring topics, for instance:

  • Status reports for regions, major projects, programs
  • Strategies for business units, departments
  • Decisions about new sites, investments
  • Development of sales figures, KPIs
  • Analyses of trends, markets, technologies

Based on a fundamental structure – for instance, pyramidal – the topics, their structure and the kind of information expected in each section are laid down in advance. This requires intensive preliminary thought but it brings noticeable long-term savings in time and effort. The process itself also provides orientation for a whole organization regarding the board’s focus and how it thinks.

How to run a project to produce well-thought-out board presentations

One tried-and-true procedure follows these steps:

  • Set up an initial moderated workshop with the board or individual board members
  • Produce of a consensus on wishes and expectations
  • Review typical submissions to develop a basic schema
  • Apply particular examples on selected topics, to test the specifications
  • Create a generic template and a best practice example per topic
  • Hold a workshop with top-level management and/or frequent presenters for training, discussion and fine-tuning
  • If adequate, introduce supporting software tools that intelligently manage templates and ensure they are up to date

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Experience has shown that this process becomes self-sustaining very quickly. Targets and expectations become clear, templates are available, and the reasoning behind it all is understood. Once it’s established in one area or with one topic, then transferring the process to another area or topic is easy. 

We can support you on projects just like this – just get in touch with us for a non-binding chat to discuss your concerns.

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Communication Strategies: Presenting with Impact

All Start Dates

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM ET

2 consecutive days

Registration Deadline

April 21, 2024

June 30, 2024

Gain skills and techniques to engage, inform and inspire others, improving your ability to communicate as a leader.

Communication strategies program overview, communication strategies: presenting with impact, a public speaking course.

Public speaking—whether delivering a presentation, making a pitch, or leading a group discussion—can cause even the most confident leader to break a sweat. Yet communicating your message with poise, confidence, and conviction is an essential leadership skill. Mastering your public speaking and presentation skills will enable you to inspire your audience as well as build trust and credibility.

Through oral presentations and small group activities, you will put proven public speaking techniques and tools into practice, test out new approaches, and learn to communicate clearly and confidently. Discover the powerful impact of storytelling and practical persuasion skills to authentically illustrate your message. Learn how to effectively organize materials to blend analytical and emotional content into a compelling story, and incorporate dynamic introductions and memorable endings into your presentations.

Who Should Register for this Public Speaking Course

This communication program is appropriate for business professionals at all levels of experience who would like to enhance their communication skills to succeed in delivering impactful presentations. It is ideal for anyone in a role that requires ceremonial speaking, persuasive speaking, or any other type of public speaking, regardless of industry or years of experience.

All participants will earn a Certificate of Participation from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education

Participants must be fluent in English to participate fully in fast-moving discussions and exercises.

Benefits of Communication Strategies: Presenting With Impact

This communication strategies program is designed to offer new techniques to improve your public speaking skills. Key takeaways from the program will help you improve your ability to persuade and influence your audience in large- and small-group settings.

During this public speaking training course, you will:

  • Learn guiding principles of making effective presentations
  • Build confidence in your presentation abilities
  • Cultivate your personal leadership and communication style
  • Learn strategies on handling hostile audiences

“Jill [Slye] shared invaluable tips that have helped me to reduce my anxiety and negative self-talk around my presentations while conveying a message that encourages others to affect change through empowering presentations.” — Lizbeth Sanches-Acre

The curriculum for this communication strategies program is designed to be interactive and hands-on. You will practice the skills and techniques you are learning in real-time through small group activities and oral presentations during the program.

The curriculum will cover topics such as:

  • Effective delivery skills involving presence, vocal variety, body language, narratives and humor, and handling nerves
  • Crafting clear and concise messages
  • Understanding and connecting with your audience
  • Techniques for effective handling of Q&A sessions
  • Ways to gain buy-in and influence your audience
  • Strategies for online communications, webinars, podcasts, Zoom platforms, etc.

This public speaking course is offered as a two-day on-campus program in our state-of-the-art classroom space in the heart of historic Harvard University. Program tuition is $2,990 plus the cost of travel.

Considering this program?

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Related Programs

  • Effective Organizational Communication
  • Influence and Persuasion in Leadership
  • Becoming a Leader: Developing Your Style and Making Sound Decisions

April Schedule

  • Communication Overview
  • Honing Your Personal Communication Style
  • Developing Audience Centered Content
  • Presentations
  • Strategies for Online Communications
  • Leadership Communication Model

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The Certificates of Leadership Excellence (CLE) are designed for leaders with the desire to enhance their business acumen, challenge current thinking, and expand their leadership skills.

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How to make a great presentation

Stressed about an upcoming presentation? These talks are full of helpful tips on how to get up in front of an audience and make a lasting impression.

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The 15-minute, 7-slide security presentation for your board of directors.

November 05, 2019

When the request comes in to give a cybersecurity presentation to the board, security leaders should jump at the chance to educate the executives. However, a lengthy, in- depth presentation is more likely to leave the board scratching their heads than directing resources the right way.

Security and risk leaders will be presenting to the board at least on an annual basis, with some on a more frequent rotation.

Messaging and communication are especially important in the current context of a global pandemic . Board members will have many questions about the organization’s security strategy during this unprecedented event. 

But security and risk leaders must be able to communicate a clear message without losing the audience.

Read more: 5 Security Questions Your Board Will Inevitably Ask

“Boards are becoming increasingly interested in security and risk management; however, there’s often a misalignment between what the board needs to know and what security and risk management leaders are able to convey,” says Rob McMillan , Managing VP, Gartner. “It’s critical that security and risk management leaders supply board-relevant and business-aligned content that is not hampered by overly technical references.“

Ensure the presentation answers key questions about how cybersecurity can and will support the company’s main mission and business, relevant environmental factors and the extent to which material risks are being managed. Most importantly, don’t allow the presentation to get bogged down in overly technical explanations. Ensure each point is high-level enough that the board will understand it, but detailed enough to give them a true picture.

McMillan suggests a “five slides in 15 minutes” style presentation, with an intro and closing slide.

Slide 1: Get started

Slide 1 is designed to be the call to attention slide. It needs to be sparse, and simply identify the topics you’ll cover in the following slides. No details are necessary, but it should signal that the presentation will include information about business execution , strategy, external developments and risk position. It’s high level, and sets the scene for the board.

Minimum Security

Slides 2 – 6: Performance and contribution to business execution

It can be difficult for CISOs to demonstrate how security contributes to business performance. However, when presenting to the board, it is key to link (implicitly or explicitly) security and risk to business elements that the board members value.

Whatever version of these slides makes sense for your enterprise will enable you to highlight metrics and how the security team is contributing to the positive outcome. However, you should also be prepared to explain potential problem areas and their implications. Bring more detailed documentation on how each metric was produced for any board member who asks.

This is an example slide of how CISOs should connect security challenges to business outcomes.

Slides 3 through 6 should discuss how external events will affect security, an assessment of the existing risk position (this can change depending on acquisitions and other events) and the entire security strategy.

Slide 7: The call to action

Finally, wrap up the presentation with a closing slide to reiterate the main points and any action items. The key is to close strongly, leaving the board confident in your plan and abilities. Summarize the points you’ve made, and be clear about anything you have requested. This is a good time to take questions, and thank the board for their time.

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Home PowerPoint Templates Business PowerPoint Templates Board Meeting PowerPoint Template

Board Meeting PowerPoint Template

Slide Deck for Board Meeting Presentations

The Board Meeting PowerPoint Template is a modern presentation theme for CEOs and executive members of the corporate. This template contains 13 slides of creative layouts to present company reports. The graphic elements of board meeting PowerPoint make presentation engaging and well defined for the executive audience. These graphics include high-quality corporate imagery, diagrams, charts, and infographic icons. Board meeting slides are organized in a format of CEO’s introduction, performance reports, business updates, and growth strategies. The presenter can customize the format of slides or change slides according to the meeting agenda.

The Board Meeting presentations give CEOs an opportunity to speak to the board of directors. It gives them a chance to convey the vision for the company, its performance, and its overall success approach. The key to giving an outstanding board presentation is to cover the topics that board members care about. This may include performance data and recent accomplishments of the company. Highlighting goals and KPIs are also essential for board members to see how well company is progressing. Board meeting gives a chance to review upcoming projects and seek expert advice. The fifth slide can be used as an executive summary slide template .

The Board Meeting PowerPoint Template helps present a compelling board presentation. The graphic contents of template capture the interest of board members. The board meeting agenda template shows six columns to display key topics of presentation. The heading of time stamps keeps the discussion organized using board meeting minutes template. KPI slides include tables and data-driven chart templates for visualizing progress. The product roadmap template is a Gantt chart layout design. You can present multiple products and the progress of team using chevron arrows. The board meeting template contains additional useful diagram slides including circular diagrams and linear process flow to describe various business models.

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