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4 Tips to Plan Effective Nonprofit Board Presentations

Posted Aug 02, 2023 04:21 PM
Board members are a nonprofit’s strategic innovators. They review information about the organization’s strategies and finances, hear from stakeholders about successes and challenges, and create plans to achieve greater future success.

If you’re set to deliver a presentation to a nonprofit board, you must make it as useful and understandable as possible. You may be presenting vital financial information or helping them work through major decisions, such as succession planning. Therefore, being clear and concise is crucial to furthering their understanding of complex topics.

No matter what the topic of your presentation is, use these four tips to plan a more engaging, productive presentation:

1. Create a narrative arc

Just like a good story, an effective board presentation should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. When you sit down to draft your presentation, think through each planning step like you’re writing a narrative:

  • Start with a compelling anecdote, such as the story of a beneficiary or a recap of a recent volunteer opportunity.
  • Refer back to that story throughout your presentation to keep your audience engaged and make everything feel intertwined.
  • Wrap up your presentation by concluding the narrative and outlining key takeaways and next steps.

Be Brilliant Presentation Group recommends making sure that your storytelling sounds like you. If using humor comes naturally to you, feel free to incorporate that in your presentation. If you’re more about the facts and figures, use your planning process to determine how you’ll communicate those numbers clearly throughout your story.

Essentially, figure out how you can play to your strengths. Doing so will make your presentation feel much more natural and conversational.

2. Balance data with emotions

Emotional appeals can be compelling, but board members will want to see the hard facts and data that back up your claims.

Try to avoid information overload — you may have only a few minutes to present your case, so just cover the need-to-know information. Choose one or two metrics that illustrate the trend or pattern you’re discussing.

For example, let’s say you’re reviewing the results of your fundraising team’s new initiative to build stronger major donor relationships by thanking donors over the phone. You might share a story about a team member who bonded with a donor over a shared interest in volunteering and made a powerful connection with that individual.

Then, to convey the overall effectiveness of this new initiative, you should also share data that shows how much your major donor retention rate has increased as a result of this latest effort.

3. Use visuals to convey impact

When presenting, avoid wordy slides and look for opportunities to use images to illustrate a point or emphasize your claims.

For instance, you might incorporate the following types of visual content into your presentation:

  • Infographics, which can effectively present complex data.
  • Images from your nonprofit’s events or volunteer opportunities, which can connect board members’ actions with real impact on your cause.
  • Videos, which can be a great way to present critical information in an engaging, easily-digestible format.

For example, let’s say you’re building a board report for an upcoming meeting covering your nonprofit’s fundraising outcomes for the previous year. To make the information more visually compelling, you can create an infographic that shows fundraising trends throughout the year or share images of community members, staff, and volunteers at fundraising events. All of these types of visuals can add rich detail to your presentation and bring the numbers to life.

If you don’t have the strongest graphic design skills, partner with a visual artist on your nonprofit’s staff or an external designer to help develop visual content that resonates with your board members. 501 Commons has specialists listed in the Nonprofit Resource Directory that can assist with creating these assets.

4. Get comfortable with uncomfortable silence

Often, when presenting at a board meeting, you might wrap up your presentation by opening the floor for discussion. Board members may need some time to consider what you’ve said and determine the best course of action.

One of the most effective presentation skills to develop for this stage is the ability to be comfortable with silence. If you ask a question and you aren’t getting immediate answers, let the question linger. This can give your audience a minute to collect their thoughts and provide more useful feedback than if they feel pressured to give an immediate response.

For example, let’s say you’re presenting the board with several options for hiring a new fundraising consultant to help with an upcoming capital campaign. You might present each top option, then give board members several minutes to collect their thoughts before voting on your consultant of choice.

Use your presentation to foster an environment of open discussion. Convey a relaxed attitude through your body language and allow board members to ask questions as needed. This will help everyone feel comfortable getting involved in the discussion and expressing their thoughts.