Everything you need to know about board management.
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Board meeting prep is just as important as the meeting itself. Taking a step back, reflecting on your progress, and strategizing where you want to go next will help you stay focused on what’s most important. Communicating this to others will solidify your priorities and help you and your board work together toward accomplishing your goals.
You should have at least four board meetings each year—one meeting per quarter. If needed, you can also schedule periodic meetings with a more specific focus or fewer attendees, such as audit committee meetings. Whatever cadence you choose, schedule your meetings in advance for the full upcoming year. Board members are incredibly busy and their schedules can fill up quickly.
The meeting agenda is the backbone of your meeting. It conveys your priorities, which helps keep conversations focused and purposeful.
Your agenda should outline time for the following topics:
Brief opening session: provide an overview of your wins, challenges, learnings, and KPIs
Key milestones, OKRs, and core metrics: review milestones achieved since the last meeting and set key goals for the next quarter
Updates on financials, product development, customer growth, and the team: share updates on revenue and runway, customers and pipeline, open positions and hiring plans, and your upcoming product roadmap
Strategic discussion: present key strategic issues and challenges to your board for feedback and input
Closing and recap: summarize key takeaways and action items from the meeting
Executive session: allow the board to discuss the performance of the CEO and executive team (this is a board-only session where the CEO and leadership team are not in the room)
How much time you allot for each topic can vary based on your current needs. However, the most effective board meetings set aside the most time for strategic discussion. This is your opportunity to get feedback on big-picture ideas or critical business decisions. Think of where you would benefit the most by collecting feedback—honing in on 1-3 key issues per meeting is ideal.
Don’t make the mistake of spending your meetings covering status updates. Set aside a short block of time (30 minutes or so) to cover the most important updates. You can (and should) send most routine updates to your board outside of meetings.
When in doubt, follow the 80/20 rule—spend 80% of your time on strategic discussion and only 20% on updates.
Be sure to start early when creating your meeting agenda (it can take longer than you think!) and share it with your board in advance, so everyone knows what to expect and can suggest additional topics if necessary.
🌟 Pro tip: If you’re not sure how much time to allot for each section, make your best estimate the first time around and track actual time spent to inform future agendas.
Board meeting materials (sometimes called a board packet or board deck) provide all of the context and information board members need before the meeting. It should include the meeting agenda, as well as any other relevant documents (spreadsheets, charts, reports, slide decks, etc.).
For each topic on the meeting agenda, include supporting materials to provide context for pre-reading. It can also be helpful to include talking points for each topic to help participants recall important information for more effective discussions during the meeting.
Be sure to compile all of your board meeting materials in a single place so your board members don’t have to track down and juggle multiple files. You can share confidential documents that you don’t want all meeting attendees to see separately.
Instead of sending board materials via email, find a dedicated space to store and manage who should have access. Board management apps not only make it easier to securely store and share information, but also enable board members to leave comments and ask questions before meetings (we may be biased, but we have a great one).
Finally, make sure you share the board materials at least a few days before the meeting so everyone shows up prepared. 3-5 days should give your board members plenty of time to review materials in advance.