The Ultimate Guide to Running an Effective Board Meeting
25 September 2021
A Board of Directors meeting is an excellent opportunity to make sure that key stakeholders are on the same page.
To hold an effective board meeting, you need to understand the functions of the board, the goals of the meeting, and conduct necessary board communication before and after the meeting.
Board meetings must be focused, effective and efficient to ensure the highest level of collaboration among stakeholders, who are there to make big decisions regarding the company’s future.
This article will outline everything you need to know in order to run a productive board meeting. We’ve even included some templates so keep an eye out for those!
What is a Board Meeting?
A board meeting is a formal meeting of the board of directors of a company and any invited parties, where they come together to discuss policy issues, any outstanding problems, business strategy and review performance of the company. These meetings are important because they provide an opportunity to define and discuss the company’s development trajectory.
Board meetings take place at different intervals, often quarterly or twice annually. The frequency of these meetings depends on what the board considers to be necessary.
Aside from the board meetings described above, there are 2 additional types of meetings where the board of directors comes together:
The first is an Annual General Meeting, which is used to keep board members up to date on the organization’s performance, provide insights for the upcoming year and elect, or announce the election of new board members.
The other type of board meeting is the Extraordinary General Meeting. This kind of meeting is only held when important decisions need to be made by the board of directors.
With some strategic planning, board meetings can be productive and efficient. This blog post will outline our top suggestions so that you can get the most out of your next board meeting.
How to prepare for a board meeting
Directors of companies are busy people so it is crucial to have a plan in place to ensure board meetings are productive and effective decisions are made on how to continue making the business thrive and succeed.
While there is no specific, set-in stone process for preparing for a board meeting, here are some things we consider to be crucial steps:
1) Start Planning in Advance. Block out time slots in your calendar every week to prepare for the next board meeting. Ideally preparation for an upcoming meeting should start almost immediately after the last meeting ended. Planning ahead of time ensures there is no panic and last minute scrambling, trying to figure out details.
2) Work with the main stakeholders to ensure all important discussion topics are included in the agenda. Take time to send out relevant documents to participants ahead of time, so that they have a reasonable amount of time to go over them and prepare.
3) Confirm attendance and start arranging the meeting location. It is possible that not everyone will be able to join the meeting in person so ensure that all the technology is in place for them to easily attend the meeting via video call. For those who will be travelling in from out of town, make sure travel arrangements are taken care of. Once you know the number of participants, you can make catering arrangements and any other additional services that will be needed during the meeting.
4) Build a proper agenda – This is our favourite thing to talk about! We always mention the importance of having a well structured agenda to make your meetings run smoother. The best kinds of agendas are ones that are structured but also allow flexibility. A useful trick is to use the previous board meeting’s agenda as a starting point and guide for writing the new one. Consider the expected number of attendees, project assignments, expected time for each discussion point, strategies to encourage discussion, and ways to record the meeting itself (more on this later!).
5) Prepare relevant documents and materials. Distribute all board meeting materials including financial reports, previous meeting minutes and other important documents ahead of time. As mentioned above, the meeting participants will need sufficient time to review them and if needed, request edits and additional points to be added.
6) Prepare a meeting minute template. Chances are, if you’ve already attended or organised a board meeting in the past, you will have access to a template. This will include sections such as time, date and location. Don’t forget to add sections for the major items of the agenda and leave enough room for note-taking.
7) Final preparations – If any directors did not submit their reports, contact them and determine a method of distributing these materials to all attendees. The day before the meeting, make sure to check the meeting space to ensure that seating requirements are met, the catering arrives on time, and that all computers, screens and microphones are connected.
How to conduct a board meeting
As with anything, preparation is key!
There are certain common procedures that always have to happen at board meetings, such as:
Calling the meeting to order,
Reviewing and approving an agenda,
Ensuring there is a recorder and having minutes taken,
Reviewing and approving minutes from previous meeting,
Calling for motions and voting on items when appropriate,
There are several other key steps to running an efficient board meeting. Follow these easy tips to make sure your board meeting runs smoothly!
Share Documents and Agenda in Advance
After the agenda is finalized, make sure to contact the directors and chairpersons of the committees that need to send in reports. Set a deadline for submitting these reports and follow up as needed. Then distribute the agenda to the board of directors and allow time for directors to request corrections or supplements before the board meeting.
Clarify Everyone’s Role in the Meeting
Knowing what you want to get out of the meeting is the first step to knowing who to invite to it.
There must be a quorum at a board meeting. A quorum refers to a minimum acceptable number of directors needed to make the proceedings of a meeting valid under the company bylaws. This clause ensures that there is sufficient representation at meetings before any changes can be made by a board. The quorum for a board meeting must be 1/3rd of the total number of directors or 2 directors, whichever is the higher number.
In addition to the board of directors, some other individuals may be asked to attend. These include:
1) The Board Secretary, who must be present to take and present the meeting minutes. Typically, the Secretary is also the Chief Financial Officer;
2) Anyone who is an Officer of the company. These are senior managers, perhaps founders, who have a deep understanding of the company and a desire to attend meetings;
3) And other C-level executives. At a meeting where management submits quarterly reports to the board of directors, other C-level executives must submit reports in their respective areas.
Everyone who attends the board meeting should have a good reason to be there and be able to contribute to the discussion. Assigning each board member with a role to play can help to increase engagement and productivity during the meeting.
Prepare the Main Issues to Discuss
There are 5 main topics that will need to be covered in a board meeting:
1) Company Performance – This is arguably the most important topic of the meeting. Make a list of goals for the company to see if you are on the right track to accomplishing them. If the company has been around for a while, look back on completed targets and goals the company has already achieved. The main objective of this topic is to find solutions to potential roadblocks and plan future goals.
2) Future Strategies – Take this time to talk about the goals that have been successfully achieved and how a particular strategy works well. Highlight future growth plans and the action plans you will take to accomplish them.
3) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – The next topic of discussion is KPIs, which will be used to measure the effectiveness of the proposed strategies and future plans. Examples of these indicators include market share, employee turnover, product sales, customer satisfaction, and the number of customers.
4) Problems, Risks and Opportunities – In business, there are always going to be hurdles. You should highlight these obstacles at your board meeting and participate in discussions to find solutions to them.
5) Fundraising – Finally, you will discuss how to raise funds to expand operations and continue to grow the company. The board meeting may be the right time to discuss your options and start thinking on how to develop a pitch deck and connect with investors.
Where appropriate, other topics from the agenda will be discussed. This is why it is crucial to have an effective agenda in place and send it out in advance to the meeting participants.
Board meeting agenda sample
Effective board meeting agenda templates vary from board to board, but the focus should always be on creating an agenda that adds value and works for the organization.
There are thousands of templates out there for you to choose from but we found one we like from Owl Labs, which is number 6 on this list. Just download it and start planning!
Alternatively, you can use Notiv to create an agenda and send it out to everyone who will be in attendance! To find out more about how Notiv can help you with your meetings, click here.
One more thing – if you’d like to learn how to write an effective meeting agenda that you will actually stick to, we wrote a blog post all about it so feel free to check that out by clicking here.
Board meeting minutes template
Someone should be appointed to take meeting minutes. The purpose of keeping the minutes is to “provide a memorialized chronology of key information such as board actions, elections of officers or directors, and certain reports from committees and staff”. Taking meeting minutes, especially at such an important meeting, can be a difficult task. Make sure you appoint a secretary or someone with experience in note-taking. To help the person record the minutes accurately, provide the note-taker with a list of things that should normally be included in the minutes of the meeting.
You could, however, use an AI Notetaker such as Notiv to help you take meeting minutes. Notiv records and transcribes meetings without any disturbance to the meeting itself. After the meeting is finished, you can send the participants the recording, along with a summary that highlights decisions, action points and highlights. To find out more about Notiv and how it works, click here.
We’ve done our research and put together a meeting minutes template ready for you to use. No need to scour the internet – it’s right here at your fingertips!
Notice of Board Meeting: [Company name] calls a meeting of the Board of Directors on [Date] at [Time] at [Venue]
1.) Call to order
2.) Review and revision of agenda, if required
3.) Approval of Consent Agenda
List of items included in consent agenda (e.g., previous meeting minutes, sub-committee reports)
4.) Decision items for board review and approval
List of items, phrased as questions, if appropriate, on which the outcome will be a Board decision and/or actions. Time allocations indicated, if necessary
5.) Discussion items
List of items for the Board’s discussion. This could include strategic review and counsel.
6.) Information items
List of items for the Board’s information
7.) Other business
8.) Meeting adjournment (and review)
With the right planning, board meetings can be engaging and informative and can dramatically improve the strategic outlook of your company.
This article covered some of the key elements to pay attention to when planning and launching a board meeting for your company. Keep in mind that certain formats and details may vary from business to business.
Having a proper understanding of the rules and principles of board meetings will help you make the most out of your time and set achievable goals for the company. Take advantage of different perspectives and ideas from participants. Good luck with your board meeting!
To find out more about how you can record Teams, Zoom, Google Meet or any other online meeting for free, check out our previous blog post!
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