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NBC Bay Area

Presentation High School's Board of Directors President Retiring, Group Alleges She Failed to Report Alleged Sexual Abuse

By bay city news • published may 25, 2018 • updated on january 8, 2019 at 7:34 pm.

A former principal of Presentation High School in San Jose will retire as president of the school's board of directors at the end of the month, a spokesman for the school said Friday, in the wake of allegations by critics that she knew about sexual abuse at the school and failed to report it.

Marian Stuckey, who was the principal of Presentation High School from 1970 to 1977 and then again from 1984 to 1993 announced Friday that she is retiring from the board when her term comes to an end, spokesman Sam Singer said.

A group of Presentation High School alumnae, also known as Make Pres Safe, has alleged that sexual abuse and misconduct has spanned decades. That abuse seems to have begun in 1980, Make Pres Safe says on their "Timeline of Allegations" tab on the group's website.

Stuckey is named specifically in a case against former teacher John Fernandez from which a minor was allegedly repeatedly subjected to sexual misconduct for two years beginning in 1984.

Make Pres Safe alleges Stuckey knew about the abuse, which included inappropriate attention, touching, kissing and gifts, because of a letter to the administration. That letter was allegedly never responded to, and the case was never investigated, the alumnae group said.

A 15-year-old girl quit the junior varsity soccer team because of Fernandez's alleged misconduct, the group said, and Stuckey received a letter from her in 1991 that outlined the alleged abuse that took place during 1987 and 1988. That letter was allegedly not addressed either.

In 1990, a 16-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted by Fernandez and told another student who notified a teacher. That teacher notified Stuckey, at which time Stuckey questioned the girl and suggested maybe she dreamt the assault, Make Pres Safe alleges.

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The allegations against Stuckey by Make Pres Safe also include a case of a 17-year-old who said she was inappropriately touched and shown pornography by Fernandez. The abuse allegedly received no response, and in fact just two years later, Fernandez was awarded the title of "Teacher of the Year."

Stuckey said in a statement that she is honored she "helped so many generations of young girls become leaders in our society."

The former principal said that she hopes the school will continue improvements and in response to criticism, to improve education and training.

The statement gave a synopsis of efforts the school has made to ensure students are "safe in a superb educational institution."

Recently, Presentation High School instituted initiatives like a new Office of Prevention of Student Bullying, Harassment and Abuse, an independent committee to develop recommendations for practices on harassment and updates on training on mandatory reporting practices and procedures, Singer said.

Previously, Singer and current school principal Mary Miller, who also allegedly failed to report alleged harassment, used the words "deceptive" "fraudulent" and "damaging" to describe the Make Pres Safe allegations.

Make Pres Safe organizers said in a statement, "We are pleased the Sisters of the Presentation and the board of directors are finally taking meaningful action to ensure child safety is the top priority at Presentation High School.

"Marian Stuckey will go down in history as one of the worst enablers of sexual predators in Northern California. We hope she finds it in her heart to pray for and apologize to the decades of victims she hurt."

Make Pres Safe organizers said, "We look forward to additional resignations and/or retirements from school leadership."

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Presentation HS president resigns amid accusations she mishandled reports of sex abuse

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- On Wednesday, Presentation High School's president and former principal, Mary Miller, submitted her resignation to the school's board of directors.

Miller came under criticism in October 2017, after a letter from a former student was published to the Washington Post, accusing Miller of mishandling allegations of sexual abuse.

Since then, dozens of former Presentation students have come forward to report they were abused too.

RELATED: More sexual misconduct claims at Presentation High School in San Jose

"I have come to the realization my resignation is what is best for Pres," Miller said in her resignation letter. "The allegations of past sexual abuse continue to be a distraction for the school and bring negative attention towards Presentation."

ABC7 News met with Kathryn Leehane, one of dozens of former Presentation HS students to come forward about her alleged abuse.

On Wednesday, Leehane explained her experience, "While I was a student at Presentation, Mary Miller was my idol. She was my mentor."

So, when Leehane told school administrators about being groped by one of her teachers, and being shown an explicit picture by the same man, she expected action.

"When she failed me after I graduated, by not reporting my abuse to the police, I was devastated," Leehane said.

She explained spending seven years in the 1990's, trying to bring her alleged abuser to justice.

Not until October 2017 was her writing published in the Washington Post . Leehane's article detailing how she achieved peace.

She says Miller's resignation, nearly a year later, is a critical first step for both victims of sexual abuse, and for current and future students to ensure their safety is top priority.

Miller touched on that topic in her letter to the board, Wednesday.

"It is my sincere hope that my absence will bring some peace and allow the staff and new administration to focus on the success and well being of our students - which is our common goal," Miller wrote.

"I think it's really important for leadership to change," Beth Johnson told ABC7 News. "As much as I've loved and learned from Mary Miller."

RELATED: Accusations fly over SJ high school's handling of sexual abuse allegations

Johnson is also a former student who was taught by a Presentation HS Spanish teacher who is just one of a number staff members accused of abuse.

Johnson says she's devastated to hear about the allegations against Miller, and even more distraught to learn about the abuse her fellow peers say they've endured.

Leehane says after her story was published in October, more than 30 people came forward to say they were abused too. Many of those women confirming school administration, including Miller, did nothing to prevent.

"She did a lot of good for Presentation, there is no doubt about that," Leehane said. "But she also, through her failure to report child abuse, she victimized dozens of girls."

Miller's resignation is effective September 14th.

In the release about her resignation, Presentation High School added the school has since implemented a series of actions to increase measures to educate and protect young women.

Those measures include the following:

Conducting additional mandatory reporting training for all staff in January 2018 and

preparing two additional trainings on student safety in the 2018-2019 school year.

Implementing new policy updates (available on our website) recommended by an ad hoc

committee and approved by the Board.

Creating the Office of Prevention of Student Bullying, Harassment & Abuse, led by a

Director who reports to the Board.

Attending a mediation to listen to ideas on how to make Presentation an even safer

school in the future.

Applying updates to our Student Wellness Program to include student safety.

Focusing on healthy relationships, dating, and how to spot abuse in our annual Student Development Days

Bishop Patrick J. McGrath with the Diocese of San Jose released the following statement:

I commend the courageous women who have come forward over the past year to cast light upon the abuse that they and others experienced while students at Presentation High School. Through these difficult times, they have stood with one another in solidarity.

Over the past few months, I have met with some of the victims and listened to their stories and concerns. I hope that the announcement today by the Board of Directors of the change in school leadership will allow the victims, survivors, their families, and the Presentation High School community to take the next step on the path of recovery and wholeness.

The Diocese of San Jose is committed to a safe environment for all and extends support to victims/survivors and their families through the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults - 408-983-0113.

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Board of directors presentation: The all-in-one guide

Learn how to craft a persuasive pitch, deliver your presentation with confidence.

Raja Bothra

Building presentations

team preparing board of directors presentation

When it comes to presenting to your board of directors, it's not just another run-of-the-mill presentation. You're facing a unique audience with high expectations and critical decisions to make.

In this guide, we'll delve deep into the art of creating impactful board of directors presentations. Whether you're a seasoned presenter or just starting out, these insights will help you shine in front of your board members.

Art of presenting to your board of directors

Presenting to your board of directors is a skill that can significantly impact your organization's success. It's a chance to convey your ideas, strategies, and achievements in a way that aligns with the company's goals and values.

Board of directors: The pillars of governance

The board of directors, often referred to as the "board," plays a crucial role in steering the company. They are responsible for major decisions, overseeing company performance, and ensuring it stays on course. Understanding the dynamics of the board is key to a successful presentation.

Board members: Your audience

Your board members are a diverse group with varying backgrounds and expertise. They bring their unique perspectives to the table. Addressing their specific needs and concerns is essential to a successful presentation.

Slide design: Crafting visual impact

In board presentations, slides are your canvas. Use them to create a visual narrative that complements your verbal communication. Avoid overcrowding slides with text. Instead, focus on concise, visually appealing slides that enhance your message.

Board meeting dynamics

Board meetings are structured events where presentations are made, decisions are taken, and strategies are discussed. Understanding the flow and purpose of a board meeting is crucial to your presentation's success.

Purpose of a board of directors presentation: Why do we need one?

Why present to the board.

Every board of directors presentation serves a distinct purpose. Whether it's a quarterly performance update or a strategic proposal, your presentation should align with the board's needs and expectations.

The long-term value proposition

Remember, your presentation should not just be about the here and now. It should convey the long-term value your strategies and initiatives bring to the company.

How to structure an effective board of directors presentation

A well-structured presentation is like a well-organized roadmap. It guides your board members through your ideas, helping them understand and appreciate your perspective.

1. Title slide :

  • Start with a compelling title that summarizes the purpose of the presentation.
  • Include your company logo and the date of the presentation.

2. Agenda :

  • Create a slide that outlines the agenda for the presentation.
  • This helps set expectations for what will be covered.

3. Introduction :

  • Begin by introducing yourself and your role within the company.
  • Provide a brief overview of the presentation's purpose and goals.

4. Company overview :

  • Present a concise overview of your company, including its history, mission, and key achievements.

5. Financial highlights :

  • Share key financial metrics and performance indicators.
  • Use charts and graphs to visualize data for easy comprehension.

6. Operational updates :

  • Discuss recent operational developments, such as product launches, market expansion, or cost-saving initiatives.

7. Market analysis :

  • Provide insights into the industry landscape, market trends, and competitive positioning.

8. Strategic initiatives :

  • Detail any strategic initiatives, projects, or goals your company is pursuing.

9. Risk assessment :

  • Identify and assess potential risks and challenges your company may face.
  • Explain your mitigation strategies.

10. Financial projections :

  • Present future financial projections, including revenue forecasts and expense estimates.

11. Recommendations :

  • Offer recommendations or decisions that require the board's input or approval.
  • Clearly state the desired outcomes.

12. Q&A session :

  • Dedicate a slide to transition into a question-and-answer session.
  • Encourage board members to ask questions and seek clarifications.

13. Conclusion :

  • Summarize the key points of your presentation.
  • Express gratitude for their time and input.

14. Next steps :

  • Outline the next steps or actions expected from the board following the presentation.

15. Closing remarks :

  • End with closing remarks and thank the board for their attention.
  • Reiterate your commitment to the company's success.

16. Appendix (Optional):

  • Include any additional data, charts, or supporting documents in the appendix.

Do's and don'ts on a board of directors presentation

Presenting to a board of directors is both an art and a science. Knowing what to do and what to avoid can make or break your presentation.

  • Rehearse : Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your presentation to ensure a smooth delivery.
  • Keep it concise : Avoid lengthy, meandering explanations. Keep your presentation concise and to the point.
  • Engage your audience : An engaging presentation can help board members understand complex topics better.


  • Overload the slides : Avoid overcrowding slides with too much information.
  • Copy-paste content : Your presentation should never be a copy of existing documents.
  • Lack of preparation : Don't go into a presentation without thorough preparation.

Summarizing key takeaways

  • Unique audience expectations: Board presentations are distinct, requiring understanding of the board's unique audience with high expectations and decision-making authority.
  • Impactful communication: Craft presentations that effectively convey ideas, strategies, and achievements aligned with the company's values for maximum impact.
  • Board governance insights: Recognize the vital role of the board in steering the company, making significant decisions, and maintaining its course.
  • Diverse board members: Acknowledge the diverse backgrounds and expertise of board members; cater to their specific needs and perspectives for success.
  • Effective presentation structure: Structure presentations thoughtfully, including key elements like agenda, company overview, financial highlights, strategic insights, and a focus on engagement while avoiding common pitfalls.

1. How should I approach discussions and decision-making in the boardroom after my presentation?

After your presentation, discussions in the boardroom are crucial for reaching a consensus and fine-tuning the decision. It's not uncommon that the discussion starts immediately without formal presentations. Be ready to engage with board members, answer questions, and provide additional information if needed. Keep the long-term value and risks in mind during these discussions, as board members generally watch over the long-term value of the company. Your role in the boardroom is not only to present but also to actively participate in the decision-making process.

2. What are some tips for engaging board members during a presentation?

Engaging board members during a presentation is essential for a successful outcome. Here are some tips:

  • Craft visually appealing slides that support your content.
  • Use bullet points to present key arguments or take-aways.
  • Encourage questions and open discussions to foster engagement.
  • Keep the presentation concise and focused on what really matters.
  • Avoid going into the details of things beside the point.
  • Make sure your presentation is based on selected details and numbers that are relevant to your proposal.

3. How should I handle questions and answers (Q&A) during a board presentation?

Handling Q&A during a board presentation requires finesse. Be prepared to answer questions, even if you don't know the answer, but be honest if you don't have the information at hand. Don't take questions lightly, as they can influence the board's decision. Additionally, don't make up information. If necessary, offer to follow up with a detailed response after the presentation. Q&A is an opportunity to provide clarity and ensure the board members understand your proposal.

4. What should I include in the slides of my board of directors presentation?

The content of your presentation slides is crucial. Each slide should contribute to the narrative of your presentation. Use visuals, bullet points, and concise text to convey your message effectively. Your slide deck should be more than a mere copy of the presentation. It should be a visual aid that supports your spoken words. Ensure that your slides align with the purpose of your presentation and the key arguments you want to present. Don't overload the slides with unnecessary information; instead, focus on elements that you want the board to remember.

5. How can I make my board presentation more impactful and memorable?

To make your board presentation impactful and memorable, consider these strategies:

  • Craft an inductive story that captures the board's attention from the start.
  • Structure your presentation based on the three typical parts: introduction, key arguments, and conclusion.
  • Prioritize information quality and unanimity in your presentation.
  • Ensure your presentation revolves around what really matters to the board.
  • Use connectors for your computer to ensure everything goes as you expected during the presentation.
  • Finally, don't forget to express gratitude for their time and attention at the end.

Create your board of directors presentation with Prezent

In the world of board presentations, having the right tools can make all the difference. Prezent, an AI presentation software designed for enterprise teams, can help you create compelling board presentations that are on-brand, engaging, and effective.

With Prezent, you can:

  • Craft visually appealing slides that resonate with your board members.
  • Save time and effort in creating and sharing presentations.
  • Ensure 100% compliance with brand guidelines.
  • Collaborate with your team in real-time, even for overnight presentations.

Presenting to your board of directors is a skill that evolves with experience and preparation. Whether it's your first presentation or you're a seasoned presenter, following best practices and leveraging tools like Prezent can help you deliver presentations that leave a lasting impact on your board members. Remember, it's not just about the content; it's about the art of persuasion and engagement.

To further enhance your boardroom presentations, consider incorporating a well-structured Board of Directors meeting presentation template . This valuable tool can guide you in organizing your thoughts, ensuring clarity in your message, and maintaining a professional and polished appearance. So, next time you step into the boardroom, armed with your carefully crafted presentation and utilizing a Board of Directors meeting presentation template, keep in mind the insights and tips shared here. With the right approach and a touch of finesse, you can master the art of presenting to your board of directors.

Are you ready to make a real impact with your presentation to the board? Try our free trial or book a demo today with Prezent!

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3 Ways to Nail Your Presentation to the Board

  • Daniel Casse

presentation high school board of directors

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.

presentation high school board of directors

  • 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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presentation high school board of directors

Give a Winning Board Presentation 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 you present to the 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 presentations to the board 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. 

Presenting to the Board is a real skill. a core business skills.  And it’s a skill you can learn.  Over the last 15 years we’ve coached hundreds of people to be brilliant presenters at board meetings. 

Do please call us and we’ll tell you about our presentation coaching – it’s fast and good value.

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

Contact us for a free consultation on your coaching 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 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

Let’s review each of these tips in more detail:

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 to the board of directors 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 presentation to the board short

Most board directors are very busy and have a huge amount on their plate.  When presenting to the board of directors 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 presentation should get to the point quickly

What do you say in the opening words of your high-stakes 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. 

I f you lay out your ‘ask’ at the very start of your 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 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 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 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 your presentation for final sign-off and approval only.

For example, how many board members or key people can you speak to before your board meeting?   The more people you consult and listen to before the 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. 

YouTube player

7. Minimise use of visual aids in high level 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 for your next board meeting presentation:

– 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 boardroom 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 turning complex presentations into simple presentations 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 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 high-stakes 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.

How to be brilliant at boardroom presentations

Get some expert help. if you want to really impress when you next pitch to the board of directors, then get in touch. we’ve been helping executives present to the board for over 15 years. hundreds of businesses have benefitted from our fast and efficient coaching expertise., call louise angus, our client services director, for a no-obligation chat about how we can add value to your board-level presentations., transform your presentation skills with tailored coaching.

Benjamin Ball Associates  Presentation skills coaching team

We can help you present brilliantly. Thousands of people have benefitted from our tailored in-house coaching and advice – and we can help you too .

“I honestly thought it was the most valuable 3 hours I’ve spent with anyone in a long time.” Mick May, CEO, Blue Sky

For 15+ years we’ve been the trusted choice of leading businesses and executives throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East to improve presentation skills and presentations through coaching, training and expert advice.

Unlock your full potential and take your presentations to the next level with Benjamin Ball Associates.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email [email protected] to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.

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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.

presentation high school board of directors

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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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