How to run a successful board meeting? A board meeting is very constructive for the founders, the investors, and the company itself. To run a successful board meeting, you need to work on it, before the actual meeting happens.
Also known as the board of directors meeting, as a standard requirement, it must be called at least once a year. However, history has proven that organizations with more frequent board meetings have a greater probability of success and growth.
Providing an excellent opportunity to align the goals and efforts of all the key stakeholders, board meetings are a great strategic and tactical tool for the company.
Periodic organization and execution of board meetings is a vital component of improving the strength and sustainability of a company.
Businesses facing strong industry competition need the expert opinion and guidance of these specialist board members in setting up their goals, reviewing business strategies, and pinning down corporate priorities.
All this cannot be achieved without close collaboration with the executive management of the entity. Board meetings facilitate the maintenance of a balance between the short-term and long-term needs and goals of the company.
Considering the high-value importance of these board meetings, the top leadership and management of every company need to enhance the frequency and quality of board interactions.
Board meetings should be focused, effective and efficient to ensure the highest level of collaboration between the stakeholders.
To assist you to make the most of these meetings, we present here some tips and guidelines on how to run a successful board meeting using innovative technologies and best standards.
You need to ensure the positive and effective participation of all members to improve the outcomes of the board meeting.
What is a Board Meeting?
A meeting of the company’s board of directors held periodically to highlight and discuss the general company policies and issues are called a board meeting.
The board of directors comprises the key stakeholders who are elected by the shareholders, investors, and top-tier members of the company.
The meeting provides information about the company’s present condition, its existing goals and strategies, problems faced, and future plan of action. It is a tool to keep keyboard members informed about the current direction of the company.
You would also call a meeting to work on the next steps when you have a great business idea. Your idea could be for a brand new startup or a new product or service that your company can provide. Check out this video where I have put together some practical ideas you can use.
Why Is It Important for Startup Companies?
For startup business ventures, a board meeting is a source for the right data and information to the right people. Highlighting the financial statements like profit and loss reports, cash flow statements and general ledger accounts help provide statistical insight into the business condition and its current operation.
It is a platform where key stakeholders like investors, can have an extensive discussion on the company’s overall performance.
Unlike existing running businesses, startup ventures have to go through innumerable changes right in the beginning.
Facing greater challenges and more problems in their initial days and months, such companies need to arrange board meetings more frequently to realign their action plans.
Even while preparing for a board meeting, the founders and top managers will compile and analyze relevant information and data and will have a clearer picture of their performance, existing challenges, and risks associated with them.
Such meetings are therefore more critical for startups as compared with mature business operations.
Considering their strategic importance for the long-term success of your company, one of the first things you should learn is how to run a successful board meeting.
Challenges Faced by Startup Business Owners In Board Meetings
Being entrepreneurs and first-time business owners, most key startup individuals do not have a clear idea about arranging and executing these meetings. The challenges that they face may include:
- Shortage of time to prepare for such meetings
- Being unfamiliar with the basics of organizing professional board meetings
- Not knowing what is expected of them in board meetings
- Being confused about what data and information to present
- Having too much information and too little time
To improve the effectiveness and success of the board meeting, you need to do active research and learn about the essentials of these meetings from experienced experts.
Frequency of Board Meetings
Board meetings are arranged periodically with pre-decided intervals. You can opt for quarterly, biannually, or annual meetings depending upon:
- The internal operations of your company
- The requirement of the directors about reviewing the functioning and progress of the business
- Any unprecedented happening in the industry or company
- Change of industry competition or dynamics
As a startup company, you should have such meetings more often than regular mature businesses.
Types of Board Meetings
A board meeting can take place online or in person. With so much advancement in technology and the world becoming a global village, most businesses today rely on video conferencing equipment to conduct these meetings.
With remote communication, directors can interactively participate in the board meeting no matter where they are.
What is a Successful Board Meeting?
An effective and successful board meeting should have the following attributes.
- It should be focused – Instead of moving around in circles, the chair or leader of the board meeting should move it concisely in a given direction. It should not linger on to discussions for a prolonged time rather take decisions on agenda points and move on.
- It should deliver results – Every board meeting should have goals and outcomes to be achieved. A successful board meet will ensure that it is result-oriented and can accomplish the target of the meeting.
- It should be actionable – Every board member should be assigned a task that is actionable and achievable. In the next meeting, he or she should be held accountable for this task.
- It should follow a timeline – Punctuality is a must for the success of a board meeting. You need to start on time and follow a precise timeline for on-time completion.
- It should be strategic and not tactical – Board meetings should not get into the nitty-gritty details of every function and operation of the company. They should have a bigger picture of the company’s performance.
Organizing and Executing an Effective Board Meeting
Complete this checklist before a board meeting.
- Compile and list down the previous board meeting’s minutes. These are mostly read out at the beginning of a board meeting.
- Prepare and put in order all financial reports and documents that have to be reviewed and discussed in the meeting. In most cases, these documents are sent to the board members in advance for prior review and understanding.
- List down and analyze the assets, liabilities, risks, and challenges faced by the company.
- List down the proposed new strategies and changes in existing strategies. These will be presented for approval or disapproval by the board.
- Definition of clear goals and outcomes to be achieved through this board meeting.
Once these details have been decided upon, you can create a focused agenda for your meeting. This agenda will list down the points to be discussed in order of presentation.
Make sure you have these details clearly outlined when learning how to run a successful board meeting.
Set Up an Agenda
Like any other meeting in the corporate world, you need to set up an agenda for a board meeting as well. Having an agenda is important because:
- It brings clarity to the goals of the meeting
- It helps in the right preparation and information compilation
- Keeps the meeting focused in the right direction
- It enhances efficiency and productivity
- It saves time
With an agenda in place before the meeting, the stakeholders come prepared and are ready to discuss the issues concerned with relevant documents and details.
This agenda should be communicated in writing with all the members of the board a few days before the meeting. This way all the stakeholders will come prepared for the meeting.
Prepare Your Data and Information
The success of a board meeting relies mainly on its preparation. The first thing to prepare is to bring all your documentation, relevant references, and presentation in order.
Before even deciding upon an agenda, you will need to have sufficient information and data about the company to proceed in any given direction.
Discussion Topics Essential for a Successful Board Meeting
Here are the five basic topics that you must incorporate for a successful board meeting.
This is the most commonly discussed topic in a typical board meeting. You should highlight the company’s current performance in terms of finances, marketing, sales, customer base, and other functional areas of operations.
List down the goals and see if you are heading in the right direction to achieve these goals. For a mature company, you need to assess the targets completed and goals achieved.
For start-ups, you can talk about milestones and how you plan to achieve them. If you have not met your targets, talk about reasons and problems.
You can list down areas of concern like increased expenses, changing customer preferences, demand and supply shifts, and unachieved targets.
The aim of this discussion should be to find solutions and if goals have been achieved lookout for incentives and the development of stakeholder trust.
After reflecting on the company’s current performance you should highlight the shortfalls if any. If there is a need for realignment or revisiting the company strategy it should be discussed here.
You can also talk about the goals achieved with effectiveness and how a particular strategy has worked well. Highlight the future growth plans and the action plan you would take to achieve them.
All of these elements are critical to know when planning how to run a successful board meeting.
Key areas of discussion include:
- Whether existing strategies have worked or not
- Goals for short-term and long term future
- New strategies proposed
- Viability of strategies
- Implementation of the action plan
- Execution requirements.
These details are mostly presented by the company’s top leaders or higher management team.
Key Indicators of Performance
Next in line should be the key performance indicators which will be used to measure the effectiveness of the proposed strategies and future plans. These indicators should be
- Compatible with your goals
- Applicable to the company operations
- Realistic in terms of achievement
Examples of these indicators include market share, employee turnover, product sales, customer satisfaction, and the number of customers.
Risks, Problems, and Opportunities
As you enter new markets and new horizons of business in startup ventures, you will face several new hurdles and challenges.
You should highlight these obstacles and problems in your board meetings and bring out productive discussions to find solutions against them.
The board meeting is also a great platform to list down new opportunities in the market and whether the company should or should not avail them.
After the board of directors has been informed about existing performance, future plans, new strategies, and key performance indicators, the last point is to discuss the plan of action you will take. You’ll also discuss expectations from each board member.
It is the actual steps of executing and methods that will be followed to achieve the proposed future targets.
The board will approve the adoption of this plan through consensus or voting.
At some point, your company will need to raise funding to expand operations and grow. Board meetings could be the right time to discuss your options and develop a pitch deck presentation for connecting with investors.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Key Points to Remember:
- While planning a board meeting, you must always chalk out a format. This will include an introduction, company information presentations, strategic discussions, departmental review, executive sessions, practicing the right of voting, deciding on minutes of the meeting, and meeting closure.
- The important points of strategic importance should be discussed at the beginning of the meeting.
- Keep the meeting facilitative and collaborative by including all members in the discussion. Every stakeholder is important and should be given a chance to give his or her opinion.
- Enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the meeting by providing video conferencing equipment and other innovative meeting technologies and gadgets.
- Always follow up on the assigned tasks and minutes of the meeting to ensure achievement of the targets.
- Discuss and review the meeting’s outcomes to gauge its success and come up with changes for future board meetings.
- Ensure there are no distractions in the meeting. Texting, calling, or any other distraction should be intolerable.
- Make sure the meeting is punctual and avoid sloppiness. A poor board meeting reflects on the incompetence of the leader or chairman of the meeting.
These were some of the key elements that you need to focus on while planning and initiating a board meeting for your business entity.
It should be kept in mind that the format and types of meetings vary according to your business needs, lifecycle stage, and mode of operations. Keep these factors in mind when working out how to run a successful board meeting.
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