At last week’s IT Leadership Meeting, we learned who makes up the Board of Directors and what we need to do in order to speak to them as well as join them.  I want to thank Karen Fedyszyn for sharing her knowledge with us on the topic Preparing and Presenting to the Board of Directors.  I would also like to thank Cooper’s Hawk and Centro for hosting our meeting.  Now let’s get down to the topic at hand; Preparing and Presenting to the Board of Directors.

Karen led the meeting by polling the group to find out who, in fact, has presented to a BOD.  She let us know that the Board was made up of Directors that jointly supervise an organization, and these are the people that generally appoint the CEO of the company.  The meetings are conducted by rules and procedures defined for the BOD, and these duties are fiduciary.  There are, also, six committees that sit on the BOD.  These consist of Executive, Finance, Governance, Communication PR, Audit, and Adhoc.

After giving us a little background on who the board is comprised of, Karen then spoke about how to prepare to speak to the BOD.  She admitted that when she represents her department, she never goes in cold.  She researches everyone on the board and the “Hot Topics.”  In order to know your audience, you must research each member you interact with, attend any dinners and invites, know who sits on which committee, understand their SME and interview internal directors to understand the players and the dynamics of the group.  Karen also suggests using Bloomberg, D&B, Reuter, any news outlet and historical books to help in your research of the BOD.

Lastly, Karen filled us in on the importance of knowing that the meeting is for the Board of Directors, NOT YOU! In order for the meeting to run smoothly, you must prepare.  Your primary focus is always on what the BOD needs to hear and not what you want to communicate.  Make sure to always simplify your charts, use specific slides, align comments with the board and NEVER drop an open-ended issue.  If you have a problem, make sure you know the plan of attack. If it’s too new, it might be too soon to discuss, and best to not bring it up at all.  At the end of the day, remember that the BOD are human, just like you.

I want to thank all that attended the meeting. Once again, thank you, Karen, for sharing your knowledge and wisdom when speaking to the BOD. To find out more about The Private Directors Association, check it out here. This association provides a national network where executives and professionals interested in board services can find and meet with those interested in securing top-notch board members. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, check out the slides here.