Boardroom presentations offer you an opportunity to develop intestinal fortitude and emotional intelligence. And neither appears on the Meeting Agenda. There’s a lot you can learn beneath the surface – about yourself and others.
If you don’t know how to stand your ground and make yourself heard in the boardroom, one of the most intimidating of public places to speak, you will quickly become it’s casualty. When intimidated, my clients have reported the following feelings:
• A sense of being made small or reduced in value;
• Wondering if they are wearing a Cloak Of Invisibility;
• Anger and in danger of saying something they’ll later regret;
• A drop in esteem and creeping self doubt.
Feeling intimidated can happen to the most confident of people. Learning to be less influenced by the behaviours of people around you, allows you to stand your ground with greater ease.
For many people, access to the Boardroom is like being invited into a secret, powerful society. It has a mystique about it… but that doesn’t mean you have to believe it! These people are often perceived as the cool in-crowd at school. Your beliefs about your worthiness to be accepted may be influencing your feelings of intimidation or sense of welcome ease.
Let’s take a moment now to redesign your boardroom presentations experience. Which of the following appeal to you the most?
• You are always greeted and acknowledged at the start and finish.
• You feel included in the groups’ eye contact, body language and conversation.
• When it’s your turn to speak, you feel heard.
• You are treated with respect and rarely interrupted or reduced.
• The group is prepared to action or discuss your proposal.
• Anything you’d like to add?
OK, so now you know what you want. Next, follow these 6 steps to make it happen:
- Prepare and think through your boardroom presentations. Be clear about your purpose, outcomes and benefits. Anticipate possible objections and create counter arguments or alternatives. If you have considerable material, email to the other members in advance. Develop a good relationship with the chairperson, or even better, be the chairperson!
- Dress well. If you look good, you’ll feel good. Do not wear revealing or inappropriate clothing. Humans make judgements of each other in less than 6 seconds.
- Walk into the room with your head high and without hesitation, initiate gentle eye contact and acknowledge others politely. Take a seat beside those you feel an affinity or who are positively influential.
- Claim your space at the table. Don’t allow yourself to be elbowed out by other’s paraphernalia or presence. Take slow, deep breaths, ground yourself though the floor, relax your hands and avoid fidgeting.
- When it’s your turn to speak, pause, take a breath, make soft eye contact with one another person and succinctly outline your subject, purpose and it’s relevance in less than 2 minutes. Engage their interest by explaining what’s in it for them, outlining an outcome or benefit. Be clear about what is needed from them to make it happen. If people don’t know what to do they are more likely to say “no” without even thinking about it.
- At the end of the meeting, arrange to connect with your allies to continue the conversation or project with the aim of building relationships. Always follow through with what you say you will do. The next time you enter the boardroom, you will have gained at least one new relationship and you’ll automatically feel more confident.
Many of my clients find it useful to visualise a powerful, immovable object that cannot be ignored or bullied, like a huge tree with spreading roots and limbs or a venerable mountain or a deep, calm lake. When they summon up the qualities inside themselves of that powerful, timeless, immovable tree, mountain or lake, they cannot be intimidated.
Try creating a simple visualisation for yourself before your next meeting and you too may become a force of nature in the boardroom.