Understanding your audience’s priorities and solid preparation will boost your confidence and effectiveness.
Presenting to the C-suite or board of directors at your credit union can be an amazing opportunity. It is also terrifying! Here are some things I remember to tackle ahead of time to help my presentations land.
- Align your topic to the strategic plan. Your executive leadership wants to know what will help the credit union achieve its strategic goals. No matter the topic of your presentation, take a moment to tie it to strategy. And, as much as possible, show how your topic helps improve the bottom line. Without line of sight to the strategic plan, you will lose your audience before you begin.
- Understand your audience. Who are the people you are presenting to? What do they care about? Particularly when presenting to the board, take a moment to check your credit union’s website or intranet to see what you can learn about them, the organizations they come from and how long they have been on the board. The better you understand their perspective, the more you can align your material to their interests.
- Know your stuff. Before the big presentation day, do the research and know your subject inside and out. You are the subject matter expert, so be ready to demonstrate that expertise. Think about the potential questions that may come up and have answers ready. Also, if you are using acronyms in your presentation, make sure you know what they mean. Share your presentation with others to see what questions they have, and then be ready to answer.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Start working on your presentation as early as possible, and practice it for everyone you can. Pull a co-worker into your office to get feedback. Practice in front of the mirror and think about your body language as well as your words. (Don’t forget to smile.) Turn off the radio on your drive to work and practice in the car. Practicing will build your confidence and may help you think about questions that could arise. This will also give you time to make adjustments to your presentation.
- Make it interactive. If you are presenting during a meeting or board session, odds are the presenters before you came in with PowerPoints, lectured and left. Don’t fall for that! Build your presentation with pictures and creative imagery, ask open-ended questions, and get the participants talking and engaged. The more they share, the more likely they are to remember your presentation.
Sara Kennedy, CSE, is SVP/associate experience at $6 billion Members 1st Federal Credit Union, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.