How to Run a Board Meeting

February 12, 2020

July 26, 2019

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Governance

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Senior executives and governors are busy people by nature. As the adage goes ‘if you want something done – give it to a busy person’. However, there are ways to make board meeting procedures easier for everyone and having an effective board meeting process is central to that.

4 Steps for Effective Board Meetings

Here are 4 steps on how to conduct a board meeting:

1. Enact an Annual Plan

  • An annual work plan allows the board to plan the frequency of meetings, agree optimal dates / times of board meetings and to confirm whether board members will be communicating through face to face discussion or via digital connection.
  • The plan captures the cadence for deep dive strategic topics, and whether they require specific internal or external participants.

Standard items roll from the plan and ensure that the board is fulfilling its compliance responsibilities.

2. Agree the Meeting Plan and Agenda

  • From experience, it is usually the board Chair in discussion with the CEO that sets the board meeting agenda. The Annual Plan will provide reference to specific periodic focus. Between board meetings, it is helpful for the Chair to guide the CEO to close outstanding action items.
  • The board Chair will invite directors to add additional topical agenda items. This can happen via email. A ring around if time / budget allows can however, provide a more nuanced response. Board directors should be encouraged to contact the chair with any considerations even outside meeting cycles.
  • The meeting may require / benefit from participation from outside the standard attendees. These parties may provide the board members advanced materials and resources for their consideration. Most directors appreciate having a week between receiving the board pack or meeting agenda and the board session.

3. Set expectations on information preparation

  • An agreed format of agenda and board pack is helpful to both those preparing and receiving information.
  • When preparing for meetings, a KPI dashboard – often with traffic light and improvement vs deterioration arrows from the prior meeting allows directors to hone in where actual performance varies from plan/recent period. Information to populate dashboards should be objective and easy to obtain. Our CEO Reporting template is a great way to present the key metrics of the business from the CEO to the board.
  • For key papers it is helpful to directors to have background pre-reading / watching information and to understand the advice or type of decision the executive management team wishes to receive at the board meeting.

4. Meeting and post meeting

  • Ahead of the meeting proper, boards will usually meet together to discuss key topics. In larger organisations, this may be with a meal the night before.
  • Time keeping and key assigned actions. A good minute taker may elect to summarise understood outcomes and important decisions made ahead of moving to the next topic to reduce the likelihood of mis-recording.
  • After running a board of directors meeting, promptly circulating meeting minutes once ready for release by the board Chair (and ideally within a week of the meeting) should clearly identify action items with due by task completion dates

Integrated Board software packages can smooth the process and allow for streamlined follow up of tasks. Board of directors can then focus on key areas of adding value to the Organisation to excel in its Purpose.

Author’s Acknowledgement: The above article was drawn from the work of Graeme Nahkies. Graeme is an advisor to BoardPro and the content is used with his permission. Learn more about Graeme and his work here.

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