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Board meetings – mostly dreaded and disliked because they are too long, too disorganised, and too inefficient. But they don’t have to be. Your regular meeting with the directors is an opportunity to step back and reassess your strategy. Decide if you’re on the right track, or if you need to make changes to boost your growth.
With the right structure in place, your board meetings become your secret sauce, your superpower. Below Investment Executive, Daniel Gaize, gives you the three most important practices from our portfolio’s board meetings, which have all helped grow successful businesses.
Table of contents
Preparing for a Board Meeting
“By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin
It’s all in the prep! Making sure all board members can prepare for your meeting is the most important step. The time you have for your meetings is valuable. If you’re spending too long going through the notes and points from previous meetings, the countdown clock ticks even faster, and you won’t have time to cover the most important items. However, if your directors can prepare in advance, you can get straight to business.
Make sure you send the following items at least one week before the board meeting so that the participants can prepare at a time that is convenient for them.
Having a good agenda is incredibly important. It will set the premise for the meeting and ensure all members are clear on the objectives. It also allows the chairperson to ask for any issues or requests in advance.
To speed up approvals, it might be an idea to add a consent agenda point with items up for approval that don’t require discussion.
Minutes from last meeting
To make sure you can go through actions and updates quickly – and remind the board members what you discussed at the previous meeting – sharing the notes will help the participants to prepare. They should be to the point and action oriented, and circulated no more than 48 hours after the meeting.
The Board Pack and other documents needed for preparation
Avoid your board meeting becoming a data review session by sharing finance reports, marketing statistics, and other relevant material ahead of the meeting. Keep it concise and include a page on each of the agenda items. This way board members can review the information and come prepared with questions.
Prioritising in Board Meetings
Not all issues are created equal – treat the board meeting like an A&E. Here are a few ways you can prioritise board meeting items to maximise efficiency and get the most out of everyone’s time:
Prioritise incoming issues depending on importance. The issues you don’t get to in your meeting will move to the next agenda and go into the prioritisation round again. It is also important to know when to move items outside the board meeting – maybe you can solve it over email or in a one-on-one meeting.
Set time limits
Setting time limits for your agenda points, means everyone is clear on expectations. Once the time is up, you either decide to table the discussion, or to continue it, but moving other agenda items to the next meeting.
Write your agenda in order of priority
When writing your agenda, start with the most important items first. This way you know you will get to them. If you don’t get to items of lower priority further down the agenda, these move to the next meeting.
Board Meeting Success: Facilitation
Making sure that your chair can lead the board meeting by bringing out all its members’ strong sides and ensuring everyone gets heard, will set you up for decision-making success.
If you find yourself in the position of chair, but don’t feel that you have the competences to get the most out of the rest of the board members, work on building your skills. You might want to take on a mentor, or get external training, to be able to make the meetings more effective.
You want to ensure that you stimulate open and honest conversation. Starting with a little casual small talk will help loosen up the group and create a warmer environment. When you get into the nitty gritty of the meeting, moderate the discussion so that it’s useful.
But, don’t be afraid to know when to say stop. If the members are going off-piste with unrelated conversation, it is ok to call them out. After all, you have an agenda to get through.
Board Meeting Test and Measure
Making your board meetings an event that the members are looking forward to instead of dreading can be a challenge. But, by making your meetings effective, to the point, and organised, you will create a better experience for all.
For most board members, it’s all about time. By helping them prepare in advance and being conscious about the time you spend, you create better outcomes for your business overall.
To figure out what works for your board, you need to try things out. Just because something works for another business doesn’t mean that it will work for yours. Do what’s right for you to maximise your business’ potential and drive growth.