Presenting new ideas to a board of directors can be a daunting prospect, but with careful planning and preparation, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome. Implementing new ideas presents a degree of risk for a board of directors, so your presentation must build confidence in your ability to deliver significant benefits to the company, while minimizing risk.
A board of directors is interested in strategic issues. Your presentation should therefore demonstrate how your idea will help the company achieve its strategic objectives or even take a new strategic direction. You may suggest a new production control technique that can significantly improve productivity and costs, enabling the company to compete more effectively on price. If you are proposing a new product, you should focus on the opportunity to enter a growing market sector where the company has not previously had a presence.
To ensure that your idea will appeal to all members of the board, you must familiarize yourself with the interests and concerns of different directors. The finance director, for example, will be interested in your proposal’s funding requirements, potential revenue gains or cost savings. The marketing director will focus on the business opportunities your idea offers. The manufacturing director will want to consider the supply and production implications, and the human resources director will want to understand any training or recruitment requirements. Your presentation must incorporate information that deals with all of their concerns.
Before writing your presentation, check that your idea is achievable. Prepare a detailed implementation plan with time frame and full costs to identify your resource requirements. Ask your colleagues to check the plan. By discussing your ideas with colleagues, you can identify any potential obstacles or hidden costs before presenting to the board. This will also help you anticipate any questions that may come up during the presentation.
A bullet point outline of your presentation will help you to check that you have covered all the key points you need to communicate to different board members. When you are satisfied with the outline, write the full text for the presentation. Set a maximum duration for the presentation and read your draft to ensure that you can complete it and leave time for questions. As well as talking, consider using graphics to illustrate important points. Graphs that show increasing revenue or falling costs can have greater impact than a statement of figures.
Before the meeting, rehearse your presentation so that you can deliver it confidently without hesitation. Write down a list of possible questions or objections and plan your response. Prepare any supporting documentation for distribution at the meeting. Include a single page executive summary of the main points of the presentation plus statistics or evidence to support your proposal.
At the meeting, make your presentation, emphasizing why your idea is important to the company’s future. Explain how you would implement the idea and illustrate the costs and benefits of your proposal. Invite questions and offer to respond later to any that you cannot answer immediately. Thank the directors for the opportunity to present and ask them to respond to your proposal when they have given it full consideration.
- Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images