Talking Tech With Your Board

group presentation
Contributing Writer

2 minutes

Don’t use ‘technicalese’ and stay strategic.

“The best practical advice I can give to people pitching to boards is that you want to not speak in technicalese,” says Lee Wetherington, director of strategic insight for ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry & Associates, Monett, Mo.

Too often, he says, IT people give in to the temptation to show just how smart they are.

“Get over yourself,” Wetherington urges them. “Talk in terms of gain or loss for the credit union. ‘If we don’t do this, we will lose X or we will gain Y.’ Tell the board how the gain aligns with strategic priorities. It’s Presentation Skills 101. If you’re thinking, ‘I’m going to bedazzle the audience,’ then you’ve lost them.”

He adds: “Be sure to manage the expectations of the board going in: how much time you will need to present and defend the large tech purchase; stick to the start and end times you agree upon. For presenters, the first five minutes of the presentation is the most important. That’s when the board’s attention is at its peak. Don’t waste those first precious minutes on pleasantries or regurgitation of information the board already knows. You’ll lose them quickly.

“Use visuals and stories instead of charts and data dumps. If you use a visual to prompt a story about how an average member will benefit, i.e., how member experience will improve or how new members will be drawn in, these are always more effective than mind-numbing charts and stats.”

Understand your audience, advises Jim Benlein, CISA, CISM, CRISC, principal at KGS Consulting, Silverdale, Wash. “The board is looking for the business perspective of what’s going on, not the IT perspective.”

Charlene Komar Storey is a veteran credit union writer based in New Jersey.

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