How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot When Presenting to the Board

Another tip for grabbing senior leadership’s attention: Go into meetings ready to talk about how you plan to manage costs, said Jeff Muscarella, managing partner at consulting firm NPI Financial. According to Muscarella, the savviest CIOs now are asking him for tips on spend management, working with procurement, and how to drive tight bargains while still delivering premium technology. And all this focus on managing the IT outlay is “new to most CIOs but it very much is what the board wants to hear,” said Muscarella.

If none of this sounds easy, relax, urges Kevin Kelly, CIO at the National Association of Social Workers. Kelly readily concedes that his senior management is about as uninterested in technology as you might guess and that means his is not necessarily easy sledding when he presents. The keys to succeeding are as simple as trial, error and persistence.

“You cannot take a class in communicating to your board,” he said. Maybe there are some, but they will not get the complexities of talking to your board, this time. And that is the CIO’s challenge. Just be mindful of what is working, what isn’t, and build every future presentation on the successes of the past. “Learn what interests your senior leadership and be sure you are speaking to their concerns,” advises Kelly.

Want a fast summary of these ideas to use as your mantra when next a board-level presentation looms? General Raduege obliges: “Most people have no interest in technology.” In other words, technology does-not-matter, dollars do.

Memorize. Repeat.