September 18, 2019

How to present, like a boss, to your Board

Posted by Chris Wolf

Private Equity boards are comprised of individuals with a significant amount of wealth at risk, so naturally, their primary concern is the growth trajectory of the company in which they invested. Beyond that, by the time you are presenting to your board, they will have conducted all of their due diligence before the buyout, and are now focused on the ongoing operations of the business. They want to see a structured plan that is a mix of aspirational and realistic, as well as the concrete steps that will be taken to achieve that growth. 

Here are some tips for putting an extra level of polish to your board presentation: 


Keep personal motivators in mind
 

Your board expects to see a roadmap for success, but they also want to know what you need from them in order to get there. The boards of PE-backed companies are rarely, if ever, hands off. They are immersed in the daily or weekly reports coming out of the company, following any mentions in the media, and keenly aware of the organization’s reputation. They are prepared to be involved, so make them feel as if they are. Understand the personalities in the room (or on the screen or phone). Speak to the points you know they care about. This gives them confidence that they have chosen the right leadership team and they will continue to be personally, as well as monetarily invested.  


Spot the potholes and fill them in 

Are you advocating for the purchase of new technology? Know the potential downfalls or voids within it and be prepared to address them. Gather at least two other quotes from competitors in that space, and, if you’re pitching the priciest option, position yourself to defend that spend. Speak to benefits, not just features. Draw a straight line between the investment and the return. 

Are you delivering less than positive news? Perhaps sales in the last reporting period did not meet expectations. Instead of simply delivering the bad news, have several options to present that will accelerate sales, or describe a pivot in tactics that is expected to shift results.
 


Embrace their preferred presentation style 

Of course you would never commit the number one communication offense of Death by PowerPoint, but you should also be prepared to present in a manner that is easily consumable by the board. Do they like to see charts and graphs? If so, be sure the fundamental data are clearly readable through whatever presentation format you’re using. Do they prefer a narrative style of information flow? This gives you an opportunity to tell a story. Illustrate how you went from points A to B to C and beyond. Know before the presentation whether they’ll ask questions throughout or wait until the conclusion. 


Don’t bury the lede

 Just as in journalism, this crucial tenet of communication is true for presentations containing updates and news of recent “wins”. Feature the exciting parts at the beginning of your presentation and set a positive tone from the outset.  If you’re fortunate enough to have several bits of good news, use a presentation cadence that builds a crescendo the most impactful news at the conclusion. Every board wants to come away delighted! 


Give it structure

Have an end time and an agenda. While this does not guarantee you will never be steered off-topic or go over time, it sets expectations prior to the presentation, and frankly, relieves you of blame should any of the former occur.  Additionally, structure shows respect for the time of all involved in the presentation. 

We haven’t mentioned checking your presentation-related technology ahead of time because that is a given. Do a run-through using all conferencing and remote tools, ensure everything is clearly readable, employ these 5 pointers, and you are in excellent shape for a stellar presentation to your board. 
Click here to contact Fifth Ring