How do you feel when you walk into an important meeting?
Are you ready to conquer the room, captivate your audience and walk away with exactly what you want?
Or are you a little sweaty, pulse racing, and ready to run away?
If you’re in the first category, then go forth and succeed.
But if you’re like the rest of us who tremble at the thought of public speaking or just don’t find ourselves to be particularly persuasive, keep reading.
Becoming a commanding speaker doesn’t take a special degree or a specific personality. Like most things in life, it just takes a little bit of practice.
Start RightJust like your mother warned you not to skip breakfast or leave the house without clean underwear, getting a meeting started right requires a little bit of preparation. Even if you’re nervous and a bit harried, take a moment to glance in a mirror, take a deep breath, and steady yourself for your presentation.
Do Your HomeworkIf you’re presenting to a board, you’re obviously somewhat of an expert on whatever your topic is. Because you’re the expert, you know what kind of questions to expect. Make sure that you have the answers to any questions or objections ready to go. The less you have to fumble for an answer or flip through your notes, the more confidence you project.
Make Eye ContactNothing exudes confidence more than eye contact. In a boardroom, make sure you are making regular eye contact with everyone seated around the table in a way that feels natural. You won’t exactly project confidence if you are staring at your notes or your PowerPoint slides for long stretches.
Be a Good ListenerWhen you think about commanding attention, it is easy to think that all you need to do is speak, speak well, and project confidence in your words. Of course, speaking is important but being a good listener is just as important. Be sure that you fully listen to concerns and questions and stay engaged while the questioner is talking rather than searching for the right answer.
Use Your WordsPowerPoint slides are commonplace in many boardrooms and while a visual aid can be helpful if you want to command attention be sure that you’re not using your slides as a crutch. Instead, you should know your presentation inside and out, using your PowerPoint to provide emphasis, charts, and a bit of interest but not to convey the bulk of your meaning. For instance, if you're presenting about mobile data security, you can use your slides to give stats about how security (or lack thereof) is having an impact in your industry, but don't write your whole presentation on the slides.
Commanding the attention and respect of a boardroom isn’t rocket science, but it does take diligent practice and a willingness to burst out of your comfort zone. The next time you need to take your strategy to the board, be sure to spend ample time preparing and go in ready to project confidence.
For even more tips on presenting effectively to a board, check out our presentation below.