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Controlling the boardroom: Why confidence is key

10th June 2016

Controlling the boardroom: Why confidence is key

In almost every facet of life on earth, whether directly or indirectly, confidence is important to success. One of the best modern demonstrations of this in action involves the nations most marketed mammal, meerkats. To thrive, it has been well documented


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According to countless studies into the primacy and recency effect, we are more likely to remember information at the beginning and end of a meeting, meaning that it is important to conclude confidently.

This is just one example but, from the burrows to the boardroom, the need for solid leadership in the workplace is proven and many professionals would undoubtedly like to have a bit more self-confidence. Ahead of any significant meeting, here are a few straightforward ways to boost your belief without the need to take up amateur dramatics.

Prepare thoroughly

Before you enter a meeting, you must have a premeditated idea of how you would like proceedings to end. Thorough research will give you confidence. Rather than repeating existing information, make an effort to internalise your findings and offer your own opinion and, as you approach the meeting, practice your presentation and have your team scrutinise anything you say with uncertainty.

Aside from delivering a compelling argument, confidence involves being in control of your surroundings too so get the basics right. Arranging a discussion about sensitive company strategy in a space with glass walls would be a bit of a catastrophe so pick a meeting room that suits the purpose of the day and eliminate as many variables as you can. Arrive early to test audio visual equipment and double-check catering arrangements. Ensuring that everybody has a high-quality pen acts as a delicate metaphor for your authority – use subtle tricks like this to your advantage. Sorry, no BICs.

Be flexible

In the same way that flights sometimes get unavoidably delayed, meetings occasionally fall behind schedule. Communicate with your host to find out whether your booking can be extended by an hour. Having practiced your presentation, you should have a good handle on timings but it is professional practice to confirm that you are not going to be booted out of the room should you overrun.

Being flexible in your dialogue is equally as important as feeling comfortable in your surroundings. Never interrupt your audience if they ask questions during your presentation. Asking questions shows that people are engaged – embrace them as another opportunity to display your mastery over the subject. Like a map, allow your slides to guide you if you get thrown off but please, please, do not recite them word for word.

Expect to be challenged

Leading a board meeting usually means heading a table of senior executives, directors and stakeholders. They got to where they are by being deliberately scrupulous, and their livelihood depends on it, so try not to feel spited by them if they confront you with a doubt which you are unable to clarify. Confidently thank them for their question, apologise that you do not know the answer, and let them know that you will personally get back to them with the correct information after the meeting. Keep your integrity in tact, never guess an answer.

Body language

A large amount of language is nonverbal so when you enter your meeting remember to breathe, walk tall and be confident. Offer a firm handshake and look people in the eye as you introduce yourself. Keeping your hands on the boardroom table is authoritative and, very literally, shows that you are not underhanded. Try to spread out a bit, the perception is that more space equals more power.

Draw a conclusion

According to countless studies into the primacy and recency effect, we are more likely to remember information at the beginning and end of a meeting, meaning that it is important to conclude confidently. As you wrap things up, make sure everybody is in agreement about the best way to move forward and endeavour to get the minutes, including any action points, out that day.

By conducting thorough research, controlling your environment and accepting challenges, you will find yourself delivering zealous presentations full of confidence – the personality trait that we would all like to have a touch more of. Take stock, treat every meeting as a valuable learning experience and your ideas will soon traverse the boardroom, into the hallways.