Personal Presence in the Boardroom

Advice on how to be a successful finance-oriented board member.

Organisations run by a Board encounter a mix of personalities, experience and skill-sets when it comes to Board meetings. Richard Perkins, Director of Hayes Knight, shares the importance of personal presence in the Boardroom, learned from his many years as a company director, and finance expert.

Skills for effective Boardroom communication

In order to communicate effectively, Perkins advises that a finance-oriented board members should focus on developing key boardroom skills including:

  • Strong introduction – knowing yourself, your skill set and explaining up-front how this will benefit the Board
  • Eye contact – treating people like people, especially when listening to others; individual attention maintains mutual interest in the topic you’re discussing
  • Body language – being aware of what you project with your body language and take clues from the body language of your audience. Their body language is the most accurate feedback you’ll receive about your presentation
  • Communicating content – knowing what to say, how to say it and when to say it are vitally important. You may have a prepared speech, but be primed to alter it to suit the environment and your audience if necessary.

Different practices and behaviours for individual Boards

All Boards require professionalism and knowledge to effectively run an organisation. Professional practices don’t change, but individual relationships and rapport with other directors can and do.

It is important, especially for new Board members, to remember that first impressions are usually created within the first couple of minutes, and personal presence will determine your impact on others. To create a good first impression, keep those communication skills outlined above in mind.

Underpinning your personal presence will be your values and authenticity. Confidence, empathy and positivity go a long way towards making others like, respect, and listen to you.

How do personal presence and finance skills fit together to benefit a Board?

Finance-orientated Board members can offer a stabilising force in the midst of corporate turmoil. In the Boardroom, finance types can provide:

  • Equilibrium – Corporations move rapidly. CEO’s strive to stay ahead of the game and CFOs can act as people best placed to listen and wait, rather than act on impulse and suffer the consequences
  • Planning – Structure is an essential component in business. Finance orientated planning processes are necessary for any company to grow profitably
  • Metrics – There’s an old adage: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Metrics establish the ROI and key indicators that enable budgets to be managed effectively and efficiently.
  • Order – Inertia is the silent killer of companies, however stability and consistency certainly have a key role in business success. It’s a balancing act, and order is a solid and defining presence in the chaos of commerce.

Richard’s Final words of advice

Remember that Boards are made up of people. You should develop your unique personal presence as confidence and authenticity will help you discover your signature voice. Once you have this, you will be better placed to consistently and clearly articulate your value propositions, while influencing and connecting to others. These important skills add value to, and are welcomed by, any board around the country.


Hayes Knight Adelaide | Accountants and Business Advisors

August 31, 2015

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Get on Board delivers education and development courses that are open to individuals from all professional backgrounds and all types of industries (public, private, NFP, sporting organisations and clubs, etc.). Get on Board focuses on aspiring directors – those people looking to join a board in the near future – and on new directors – those who are currently in their first to fifth year of sitting on a board. Everything that we do is geared towards developing the corporate governance skills, and the business, strategic and financial acumen of new and aspiring company directors.

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