Running an effective board meeting is a critical part of building a strong relationship with your investors. Preparation for your board marks the time to review your company’s performance over the previous quarter and set the strategic direction for the quarter & year to come.
While it’s essential to start preparing for board meetings well ahead of time, many founders leave board meeting prep for the few days leading up to the meeting. As a result, their meetings may lack a crisp agenda and aren’t as productive as they should be.
We’ve compiled a complete board meeting prep checklist to follow in the month leading up to the meeting and will share it in two parts. You’ll learn:
- Vital preparatory steps to take for a smooth and productive board meeting
- How to complete each step
- Ideal timeline for completing each step
- When your board meetings are scheduled for
We recommend scheduling your board meetings 2-4 weeks after the end of your quarter because scheduling earlier might not leave you time to finalize your quarterly financials, and scheduling it later may lead to less organized results. Allow yourself ample time to complete our checklist for the best results.
Build a High-Level Meeting Agenda
(30 days prior to BOD meeting)
- We advise kicking off your board meeting prep 30 days in advance of the meeting date. Doing so will maximize the time allotted for productive discussion during the meeting.
- Create an agenda by defining your narrative behind the company’s quarter, and then determining what topics are most important to cover with the Board. It’s helpful to review the last meeting’s minutes to see if you need to include any follow-ups in this agenda.
- Consider how much time you have for the board meeting; then allocate chunks of time to each part of the agenda based on its importance — with more important matters (such as strategy) receiving more time. With sound preparation, you’ll be able to run through your quarterly review quickly and spend the majority of your time holding structured discussions around your company’s key issues.
- When to schedule each portion of the meeting depends on your company. Some prefer to get formalities out of the way first, while others prefer to dive into essential matters while saving easier things for the end.
Create BOD Meeting Deck Outline
(21 days prior to BOD meeting)
- Three weeks out from your board meeting date, you’ll want to start building your meeting deck outline; a rough version of the final deck you’ll use to facilitate your meeting.
- Ensure you assign each section of the deck to the appropriate functional lead. It’s often productive to have leaders from across the startup present to the Board. Send them their sections so they can get an idea of what they will talk about in the meeting.
Close Books & Finalize Financials
(14 days prior to BOD meeting)
- In order to maximize your Board Meeting effectiveness, it helps to share your latest quarter’s financial results as part of the agenda. Aim to finish closing your books at least 14 days out from the meeting so you have time to review the results.
- Once you’ve closed your books, examine how your company performed last quarter and compare it to the results predicted in your last BOD meeting’s plan. Flesh out the ‘why’ behind your company’s performance versus the BOD-approved plan. You’ll need to know this so you can clearly explain it to your investors.
- Additionally, have your finance team refresh financial projections to produce an updated 12-18 month outlook. Be ready to explain your new outlook and why it changed.
Certainly, the checklist above may feel a bit daunting but the initial 30-days before your meeting will become easier with future meeting prep. For the 10 days until your board meeting, check out Part 2 of the Board Meeting Prep Checklist. We hope it sets you for success as you aim to run smooth and efficient meetings. Your board is comprised of accomplished leaders who are likely your most valuable and seasoned strategic counsel. Being polished in your meeting prep ensures a greater chance of maximizing the important time you have in front of this critical resource.