Q: I believe I work hard but have just had my annual appraisal and was told in no uncertain terms that I need to up my game, stop procrastinating and stop looking busy while achieving very little. I feel bruised, hurt and angry. What's my next step?

A: You've just had a very useful piece of advice. Few managers these days seem capable of giving such clear feedback. I strongly suggest that you get to grips with the challenges your boss has set.

You may need to go back apace and re-evaluate with your manager exactly what she thinks the job is about, what the key activities are and, crucially, what the major outputs are and how they are measured.

Now hopefully you can largely answer these yourself, but I suggest you put them on paper and arrange a formal conversation with your manager, during which you should also seek to clarify which of your current activities are not part of your job. Your boss has done you a very big favour and invested time in your future, so use this meeting as a route map forward and do not let a word of defensiveness enter the fray this could be just the fillip your career needs.

I have just done one presentation to two audiences. The first one to my team went very well, had some humour and flowed brilliantly. So with head held high I then presented it to my board where I felt I was torn apart and ridiculed, which made me even more tongue-tied. How could it have gone so wrong?

A: I've got that T-shirt too. I was always more comfortable presenting to my team or even making a speech to hundreds, compared to the threat of a board presentation. Once I'd served on a board and watched others presenting, I realised some basic pointers can help.

The really savvy players make sure they have influenced as many board members as possible before they stand up in a boardroom. This way, they will have worked out the difficult bits and board members are much more likely to be supportive boardrooms are seldom the place for surprises.

On the day, allow your confidence to show and be prepared for tough questioning. It's not personal, don't be defensive, be open-minded enough to consider options and don't make the mistake of hogging airtime; allow the board to have its conversations.

It's an important part of our development to make board presentations. You've done it once, learn from it and find a reason to do it again as soon as possible.

If you have a question for Sue, email her at sue@mountstevensexecutivecoaching.com.