Board Presentation Tips for CIOs and CISOs

Effectively articulating your cybersecurity posture to your board is critical. We have some tips for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) on board presentations and cybersecurity strategy.

Your presentations drive vital conversations and decisions about risk, resources, investments, etc. And it’s not only your organization that benefits. When the data you share consistently resonates, it elevates your role, boosting your odds of increased budgets and team capacity.

But sharing information with the board is an area where many cyber leaders need more confidence. Many CISOs cite board reporting as their top concern.

We’ve developed a four-part blog series to help with practical tips and real-world best practices for articulating your organization’s security posture and elevating your leadership role.

The first blog of the series focused on strategy: flagging top risks, putting a strategic framework and plan in place and measuring the right things. In part two, we get into the nuts and bolts of sharing this strategy with your board, from the metrics that ground your presentation to a storyboard that spans the organization, surfaces the most important details and makes it all easy to grasp.

Here’s our three-step guide and tips for CISOs about board presentations.

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Cover the top board concerns.

Cybersecurity is a vast and ever-evolving subject, but only some topics will be relevant to your board at any given time. To avoid tangents and rabbit holes, focus on four key questions that matter most to the board:

  • What are the potential threats that could cause significant loss?
  • What are the valuable assets of the organization?
  • In what ways are your people, processes, and technologies vulnerable?
  • How might these vulnerabilities financially impact the organization beyond fines, such as system availability, business continuity, and repetitional damage?

Beyond immediate threats, the board will want updates on evergreen areas such as:

  • How certifications, controls, and compliance reports align with regulatory frameworks like SOX, HIPAA, FedRAMP, and SOC 2.
  • The status of monitoring, testing, and training across critical areas of the organization, focuses on vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
  • Addressing key customer concerns regarding data privacy and the organization’s response.

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Guide your board to what they need to know and decide.

Once you’ve covered the current risk posture and immediate threats, it’s time to help the board understand what actions are required moving forward. Focus on pressing decisions and specific actions, such as:

  • Proposing new measures for data access, security technologies, or physical security methods.
  • Revisiting cyber-related operations like public relations strategies or investments in cyber insurance.
  • Evaluating the board’s cyber expertise and considering training, outside speakers, or new board members to enhance their understanding.

When discussing risks and vulnerabilities, prioritize those most material to the business, potentially impacting the bottom line significantly. Be selective with the data and figures you share; it’s only worth the board’s time if it influences decisions or behavior. While streamlining your presentation, don’t hesitate to share your expert opinions on risk, strategy, and future opportunities – it’s what they invited you for!

Make your findings a quick read.

Cybersecurity metrics can be complex and highly granular but remember that busy boards need more time and background to delve into technicalities. Digital presentation tools become your secret weapon here, allowing you to:

  • Utilise data visualizations to convey trends and context at a glance.
  • Present dashboards that unify metrics and KPIs for a comprehensive view.
  • Implement risk scorecards showcasing your organization’s security status against competitors and industry benchmarks.

Provide real-time data and reference frameworks to simplify cyber complexities for maximum impact. The board will appreciate the straightforward proposition of assessing capabilities before, during, and after a cyber-attack. Finally, remember that communications with the board are a two-way street. Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • What are the security risks of a potential new product, service or acquisition?
  • How is your team measuring threats and vulnerabilities across your supply chain?
  • What new cyber threats and developments are on the horizon?

Your knowledgeable answers, in tandem with a streamlined, user-friendly, ROI-focused presentation, will further your department’s cause even more in elevating cybersecurity as a board priority and yourself as a trusted advisor.

With these presentation tips and a solid cybersecurity strategy, you’re ready for part 3 of this blog series: your evolving role as an organizational leader.

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