Be it small and medium businesses, multinationals or non-profits, boards play an important part in the life of a company. The board meeting is the most important way of communication used by boards all around the world. In this guide we want to uncover what a board is and how meetings are run in these groups. We will also discuss the new challenges with virtual board meetings and the tools you can use to make it happen. Since this is a long guide, please navigate the different parts of the guide by clicking on the sections below:
- What is a board?
- What is a board meeting?
- How to run a board meeting?
- How to create a board meeting agenda?
- How to take minutes during your board meeting?
- How to use technology to organise a board meeting?
What is a board?
A board or board of directors is the common name used to describe a group of people assigned the responsibility to govern an organisation, company, or other similar entity. Often having a board is a legal requirement for some forms of profit and non-profit organisations. Even if it’s not a legal requirement, having a board can be a good idea in order to steer your organisation in the right direction.
The general purpose of this group is to provide the organisation with strategic direction and purpose. This group of people can also have a financial and legal responsibility when deciding a plan or strategy. The board is often in direct contact with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the founding members of the company.
A board usually has a minimum of 3 members, but you usually have from 5 to 10 people on a board. Directors can be chosen or called because of a particular skill set or because they represent a group of investors or particular stakeholders.
What is a board meeting?
A board meeting is the most important meeting for board directors which are held at certain times of the year to discuss strategic plans for the company or entity. A board meeting is important because it’s a chance for the group to discuss together about the company’s future. Those meetings are usually held at specific intervals like quarterly or biannually. Board meetings can be called if urgent topics need to be discussed. A board meeting can have a lot of different formats from a public meeting to a private virtual meeting as a video conference or teleconference.
This kind of meeting can have multiple roles and topics. One of the most important topics discussed on those meetings are company performance. During a company performance meeting a full review of how the company has done since the last meeting is done often with precise numbered comparisons. Key Performance Indicators are reviewed to see if the targets are being achieved or not. The usual KPIs are concentrated on sales metrics, marketing traffic, financial goals, and other figures. Some board meetings let each department representative present their own results. This is the perfect time talk about the KPIs and how they evolved.
Followed by company performance, strategic topics are often a big topic in those meetings. The learnings from the company performance presentation helps build a path to the future strategy of the company. The management team will come to the board with new strategies and they will discuss if those need to be implemented and how. A board meeting can also be the opportunity to raise systemic problems that hinder the completion of the goals. Boards can also vote on specific plan of actions like a new marketing strategy, setting new systems or other actions.
How to run a board meeting?
A board meeting needs to follow the rules set according to organisation bylaws. Even though these legal requirements can dictate some of the structure, they cannot give you the overall structure to run the meeting effectively. One of the best tips to organise a board meeting is to prepare well in advance. Board members are often people that are not involved in the day-to-day dealings of the company. If you want the board to be concentrated on the decisions ahead you must ensure that each board member has read and understood the information on which they need to base their decision.
It’s best practice to send the final board package 3 to 4 days before the meeting so that members can base their decision on the facts and data provided beforehand. The board meeting should be the opportunity to get the most out of the expertise of your board. Giving them the right information before helps them prepare for the discussions ahead. The most productive meetings are those in which every member has studied the documents and are ready to deal with the issues at hand. You don’t need to present the document pack again.
Since board meetings are very long, discussion and decision based, they are often very demanding for the members. You should schedule regular breaks with snacks and coffee so that people can function at the same level during the event. People tend to perform poorly when they are hungry or tired.
Another important element when running this sort of meeting is the agenda.
How to create a board meeting agenda?
Your agenda should be your blueprint and your structure in order to make the meeting as productive as possible: you want the meeting to last the duration planned but also you want members to make the decisions during the meeting. First thing to mention is that fixed agenda templates do not exist. You should aim at creating an agenda wisely and well according to the most important topics at hand.
When planning a board agenda be aware of information and decision fatigue. Schedule big decisions and discussions in the first slot of the meeting to make sure the important topics are covered. Think about noting the end goal of each agenda point since this will make it easier for the participants to reach the goal. Try to set the proper amount of time for the different agenda items in particular if those topics are triggering an intense discussion.
When preparing the board meeting agenda, don’t hesitate to build from the previous discussions with the board members. You can start by going around the table at the start of each meeting and asking each member if they have anything to discuss.
Finally, just like the board document pack, don’t hesitate to send the agenda ahead of time. When you share early, you give members the opportunity to fully prepare and actively contribute.
How to take minutes during your board meeting?
Since board meetings can be legally binding and have a huge impact of your organisation, it’s generally better to take minutes. Minutes also give you the opportunity to reflect on past meetings and improve the future gatherings. The person taking minutes needs to be a proven multitasker since you need to be able to have an accurate transcription and identification of who said what, clear writing and a keen assessment of the discussion. Meetings are not necessarily a summary of the meeting. Minutes also serve as an official and legal record. You need to record a lot of detail to make accountability easier: meeting place, date, and exact time it was called to order, type of meeting, full names of the meeting participants and absentees, motion information, action items and next steps, end of meeting.
Once the board meeting is adjourned, you need to work on the approval of those minutes with the related action items taken during the meet.
How to use technology to organise a board meeting?
Technology has made easier than ever to have a board spread across the globe. Companies can enjoy the expertise of more people than ever. You can organise your meeting in different ways thanks to new services. Redback Connect can give you the options between virtual, studio or hybrid board meetings.
Fully virtual board meetings can be hosted on our platform via teleconferencing and video conferencing systems. Our services make it easier for you to organise remote board meetings with crisp clear audio quality and professional staff helping you throughout the process.
Studio board meetings can be the perfect mix since you combine the digital accessibility with the professional look and feel of our recording studio. We offer a brandable green screen background, combined with technical support, a stable video feed with built-in redundancy, and optional production assistance to manage Q&A and voting functions.