Going to a board meeting knowing that every other single face is going to be that of a man can be somewhat daunting. After pinching yourself and checking all articles of clothing are appropriately placed – confirming you are not enduring a particularly vivid nightmare – it is important you treat it like every other boardroom situation. You have broken the glass ceiling, entered the boy’s club and smashed every other unfortunate feminist cliché created since the 1960s. Despite any nerves you have, you know you have earned your place. However, just in case you find yourself feeling a little anxious, here are my top five tips on how to give a presentation to a male-only room:
- Be yourself: You should neither try to be more masculine to relate to your peers, nor should you adopt a more feminine character to endear yourself to your colleagues. Be exactly the person you are; the personality and ability that meant you are now sitting in a boardroom filled with high powered executives. It means, yes, that you are also a high powered executive, so be confident, be proud and be your whole self.
- Be prepared: It may have been quite some time since you were a Girl Guide, but now is the time to channel the lessons you learnt. Get the room set up beforehand, making sure the IT is working, your handouts are printed and lighting, fixtures and snacks are all precisely laid out.
- Do your research: You should know your presentation really well, proving that you understand all the relevant, supporting and related information to your topic. This should also mean you won’t have to over rely on cue cards, allowing for a far more natural flow as well as letting you demonstrate your command over the subject. This will be particularly impressive during Q and A, giving you a real moment to shine.
- Eye contact: It is easy to look the PR Manager in the eye when giving a presentation, or even to stare at a fixed dot at the far end of the boardroom. Far more difficult is to stare straight at the CEO, CFO, Chairman or founder of your company. You may feel under scrutiny, but it is important to look at everyone during your presentation. My top tip is to use an imperfect x as a guide for your eyes and try to engage every person in the room.
- End strong: You may only get one chance to make a first impression, but it is your closing words that will be remembered. End with something quantifiable, concrete and hopeful. At the end of your presentation you want your audience to have takeaways, thinking points and objectives. Avoid using business jargon, meaningless statements or vague hopeful statements.
My best presentations followed the rules above. So go for it and good luck!