For many organizations and companies, board meetings are an integral part of doing business.
They are a necessary tool and system for the smooth running of businesses. In many cases, these meetings can be dull, stretched out, or end up not meeting their goals or achieving anything.
Board meetings must be planned meticulously. This planning should begin long before the scheduled date of the meeting. Ideally, the planning for the next board meeting should begin as the previous one ends. Board meetings are crucial to the successful running of a company or organization. A sound system for planning and executing board meetings is necessary.
The importance of well-planned board meetings:
A good board meeting has many vital components. These include:
- Discharge of duties to directors
Duties are discharged to directors during these meetings. These duties will then be passed down to the hierarchy of the company. A well-planned meeting details these duties comprehensively. This then translates to efficient work from well-informed employees.
- Decision making and problem-solving
Board meetings are an efficient method of decision-making. When big company decisions need to be made an organized forum is the ideal location. Board meetings allow for a conducive environment for company problems that can be discussed and brainstormed. Regular and efficient meetings mean an increase in company productivity and profitability.
- Minutes of the meeting
The minutes produced at board meetings are also beneficial. These serve as a record of decisions agreed on and changes made. Well-written and detailed minutes are the evidence that a board meeting occurred. The quality of the minutes also highlights the quality of the meeting itself.
- Debriefing of directors
Board meetings can serve as debriefings. This way, every director is aware of the dealings of the other. This helps in company harmony and overall growth. Different departments should work in unison. A board meeting is an excellent place to detail each department of a company’s progress and dealings.
- Review and future planning:
A company can look back on its past progress for analysis during a board meeting. This can be either annually, quarterly, or at any other benchmark. Plans for future endeavors can be made by carrying out conscious and cohesive reviews of past endeavors.
The preparation for a board meeting goes past selecting a time and place. Meeting preparation involves creating an agenda and setting the tone for the meeting in advance. Here are some valuable tips for meeting preparation:
- Conclude the tasks of the previous meeting
All tasks assigned in the previous meeting should be accounted for before the next one is planned. This signifies that progress was made between meetings. The previous meeting’s efficiency can be evaluated this way. It should be seen as a sign to change methods in the upcoming board meeting if previously assigned tasks are still undone.
The best way to review the previous meeting is to look at the minutes, including a detailed rundown of the topics discussed in the meeting and the tasks assigned. Abandoned or incomplete tasks can be concluded before the next meeting, which prevents the company from moving backward or lingering unnecessarily on specific subjects.
- Preparation of the meeting agenda
This is one of the most necessary and apparent steps that go into meeting preparation. The meeting agenda is the tool that every board member will use to prepare for the meeting. To an extent, the agenda defines the tone and overall outcome of the meeting.
A strong agenda is necessary for an efficient meeting. Board members should receive the agenda ahead of the meeting. This will give board members ample time to prepare for the meeting. A robust agenda should be open to feedback before the meeting day.
Board document and material distribution
- Board documents include the agenda, governing documents, financial reports, calendar, and any necessary correspondence.
- Governing documents are the files that state the principles and standards of the company. They are helpful for referral when in need of guidance or clarification.
- Financial reports are necessary to keep track of the cash flow of the company. This information allows the board to make informed decisions.
- The annual calendar of events is a calendar showing the engagements planned.
- Important correspondences include emails and letters, which may be relevant to address specific problems or decisions during the meeting.
- The board documents and materials distributed should also have a ‘reference’ section. Any other information that may not be addressed during the meeting but remains relevant is included in this.
The Meeting Day
The board meeting itself should run smoothly if proper preparatory steps are taken. A board meeting can be very hectic, despite meticulous planning. These tips should help alleviate some of the stress:
- A timed agenda
Once again, the agenda plays a pivotal role in the course of the meeting. Mainly, the meeting chair should receive a precisely timed agenda. The agenda allocates specific amounts of time to certain topics and sections of the meeting. A board meeting will often run out of time before touching on all the topics it set out to, which is a widespread occurrence.
A detailed agenda ensures that there is maximum time optimization. If more time is needed, it can be extended over a section or topic
- Executive sessions
Independent directors can meet before the full board meeting with management staff commences. This executive session allows for a quick debriefing before the meeting. It gives the directors an idea of what to expect in the meeting. Directors establish some level of agreement and unison through a brief executive session before the meeting.
Sometimes, a meeting between the directors and the CEO may occur before the board meeting to hammer out details of the agenda. It is still advisable for board directors to meet after a meeting with the CEO. This increases efficiency and leaves less room for time-wasting in the actual meeting.
The contents of a meeting’s agenda should be one based on strategy and increasing productivity. It benefits a company to discuss forward-looking matters during their board meetings. Whether it be mistakes or successes, it is far too easy for the meeting to remain past reviews. Analysis of past progress is essential. The company can use this analysis to propel future endeavors. Future-oriented topics and debates should constitute at least 80% of the contents of a board meeting. This ensures that the company is moving forward.
- Constructive conversation
It is essential that, over the course of a meeting, the tone is constructive. This means that both directors and managers constantly challenge their systems. It is essential to address constructive and relevant questions and topics. Where company systems and strategies need updating, they should be scrutinized. By the end of a meeting, some consensus must be reached. A meeting can achieve this through constructive conversations.
- Voicing of opinions
Many people constitute aboard. These board members all have different ideas and opinions. The chair of the meeting allows directors to voice these opinions and ideas. There may be directors with critical thinking skills to share with the meeting or directors with new insights or methods. As different directors have different areas of expertise, each one should be addressed directly.
- Closing review
By the end of a board meeting, specific questions should be answered, such as, “Were we able to achieve what we set out to?” “What areas require improvement?” “What topics warrant further debate?” These types of questions serve as preliminary planning for the next board meeting.
- Meeting minutes
Meeting minutes are critical to the success of the board meeting. A review of the minutes takes place after the meeting. The recording secretary sends the minutes draft to the board chair. Within a week of the meeting, a draft of the minutes should be sent out for a full board review. The secretary receives the minutes after approval. The board of directors receives the minutes from the secretary. Marked minute drafts are those on which the directors have left comments. They serve as materials for the next minute. The signing of minutes takes place in the following meeting.
After the Meeting
The activities carried out after a meeting also matter.
These are follow-up activities that strengthen the progress made during the meeting. Some activities to carry out post-meeting include:
- Reviewing notes
Members of the board may have taken constructive notes over the course of the meeting. It is essential to review these notes immediately after when they are still relevant. These notes should also be accessible to directors and other meeting participants.
- Minute drafts
Within a week of the meeting, a draft of the minutes should be distributed. This is important enough to warrant repetition. There are methods to make minute dispersion easier. This means that a meeting draft is ready much quicker. Directors should also review and make comments on the meeting as promptly as possible.
- Between meeting materials
These are post-meeting materials that are relevant to the previous and subsequent meetings. They include things like the CEO’s report and quarterly reports. Another essential benefit of meeting material is that it contains the draft of the next meeting’s agenda. These materials take the information from the previous meetings and the directors’ comments. They include progress updates which are an essential part of meeting follow-up. These materials are necessary for the evaluation of the meeting.