Culture of Learning: Preparing for a Board Presentation

colleagues discussing work for nonprofit board presentation

Among the top concerns of nonprofit boards is how to maintain resiliency through economic pressures. As an auditor, accounting or tax professional preparing a presentation for a nonprofit board, it is important to discuss financial narratives through the wider lens of resiliency. If the nonprofit is part of a highly regulated industry, this is another top concern that should be addressed as part of your presentation.

With that in mind, how do you create an engaging board presentation that offers solutions to the board’s most pressing concerns and goals?

First, try to obtain background about the attendees, their level of experience on the board and their familiarity with the organization’s financial history. This is the first step to aligning your presentation to the understanding and needs of your audience.

Second, think about how you can tell a story about the organization’s finances that answers board questions about resiliency, planning and compliance. Stories and examples are much more engaging than pure data.

Assuming that you will present as part of a team, you can rely on a more experienced leader to help you prepare. However, if this is your first time leading a board presentation or training, here are additional tips to support an informed and interesting discussion.

Make Your Board Presentation Visually Interesting

When preparing your slides or handouts, think about ways to visually represent key points in the data. You may need to pull in marketing or your graphic designer to create better charts and graphs. Build design time into your preparation.


Conclusions about the data can be presented as short bullet points along with the graphics, which give you a reference point while avoiding word-for-word recitation. Visual elements allow attendees to easily review the data while you elaborate on key points and take their questions.

Practice and Prepare for Board Presentations

man fixing tie, preparing for meetingOnce you have your presentation prepared, practice delivering it to colleagues. Make sure that your key messages are obvious and understandable. By practicing, you can avoid going off on tangents or speaking in too much detail. Your colleagues can offer feedback for improvement.

Improvement may include content changes to the presentation, but also better eye contact and body language. Whether you are presenting in person or online, make sure that you practice smiling and making eye contact to engage your audience. Also, have water nearby to avoid a dry throat.

Make sure that any technology you need, and any handouts will be ready at the presentation location. If you are presenting online, make sure that information for attendees is emailed or included in the appointment.

Allow Time for Questions and Comments

smiling red headed woman standing at whiteboardYou want to be respectful of time when presenting to board members. They are volunteering to attend this meeting. Make sure that you begin on time and end on time. If attendees have more questions toward the end of your presentation, ask if it’s ok to go beyond the schedule. You can also offer to address individual questions following the presentation.

Try to anticipate some of the questions they may ask and be ready to assist with answers. Whether you serve as the audit professional, their tax professional or the outsourced accountant, you should understand their goals and concerns.

Board members will seek your opinion and ideas. If you can’t answer their questions immediately, offer to respond back to them after consulting with your team. Make sure to take notes and follow up on your promise.

When you provide insights that help board members make informed decisions, you build trust. Clients will want to work with your firm for future engagements. You also represent yourself as a knowledgeable professional. Be ready to shine.

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