Complete Board Meeting Prep Checklist
By Alex Wittenberg, COO, airCFO.
Running an effective board meeting is a critical part of building a strong relationship with your investors. This is your time to review your company’s performance over the previous quarter and set the strategic direction for the quarter & year to come.
Consequently, it’s essential to start preparing for board meetings well ahead of time.
Unfortunately, too many founders leave board meeting prep for the few days leading up to the meeting. As a result, the meeting lacks a clear agenda and is nowhere near as productive as it should be.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a complete board meeting prep checklist to follow in the month leading up to the meeting.
- The vital preparatory steps you must take for a smooth and productive board meeting
- How to complete each step
- An ideal timeline for completing each step
When should your board meetings be scheduled for?
You should aim to schedule your board meetings 2-4 weeks after the end of your quarter; any earlier, and you might not have time to finalize your quarter financials; any later, and those results might become stale by the time you hold your meeting. The more time you allow yourself up front will help in completing our board meeting prep checklist.
Build a High-Level Meeting Agenda
Timeline: 30 days pre-BOD meeting
You should kick off your board meeting prep 30 days in advance of the meeting date to give yourself adequate time. Doing so will maximize time for productive discussion during the board meeting.
Create the meeting’s agenda by defining your narrative behind the company’s quarter, then determining what topics are the most important to cover with the Board. You should also review the last meeting’s minutes and see if you need to include any follow-ups in the upcoming meeting’s 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. Ideally, and 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.
As for when you schedule each portion of the meeting, that 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
Timeline: 21 days (~3 weeks) pre-BOD meeting
Three weeks out from your board meeting date, you’ll want to start building your meeting deck outline. This is a quick, 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
Timeline: 14 days (~2 weeks) pre-BOD meeting
In order to maximize your Board Meeting effectiveness, you should be able to share your latest quarter’s financial results as part of the agenda. You should 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, you can 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 your financial projections to produce an updated 12-18 month outlook. Be ready to explain to the board your new outlook and why it changed.
Compile List of Options Grants For Board to Approve
Timeline: 10 days pre-BOD meeting
At every board meeting, your board of directors must approve options grants issued throughout the quarter (for both new hires and equity top-ups) for which you’re holding the meeting as part of the cap table management process.
This is mostly a formality, but most startups save this for their board meetings to batch all the new options grants at once.
About 10 days before your board meeting, sum the total number of options you issued during the quarter. Make sure the ESOP will have sufficient shares remaining to grant all these options.
Draft Preliminary BOD materials and Share with Board For Feedback
Timeline: 7 days pre-BOD meeting
Now, you can begin drafting the preliminary BOD materials about seven days prior to the meeting.
Once you’ve finished the preliminary materials, give everyone that will be at the meeting — especially investors — a chance to read through all materials beforehand. That way, you can receive feedback.
From there, incorporate that investor feedback on your meeting materials into the BOD meeting presentation. This streamlines the “results” section of your presentation, creating more time to address strategic issues during the meeting.
Distribute Finalized BOD deck
Timeline: Three days pre-BOD meeting
Now that you have finalized your BOD meeting deck, make sure to distribute it three days before the meeting. Once again, doing so will provide everyone ample time to skim over the deck and be prepared for the meeting — offering more time for valuable, productive discussion about strategic issues.
Need Help Preparing For Your Board Meeting?
At AirCFO, we help founders and startups prepare their quarterly financials and projections for your board meeting. We can also help you define your board meeting’s narrative and manage the preparatory steps laid out above. Reach out to us today if have questions around our complete board meeting prep checklist or you’d like assistance preparing for your next BOD meeting.