Imagine yourself lost in the farthest reaches of the Arctic when the Northwest Passage was still a mystical body of open water. Travelling between the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean could be a challenge.Â
In this case, a map in that scenario is critical to survival.Â
A map, or an agenda, is similarly important to run successful board meetings. As such, the agenda is arguably the most important part of a board meeting.Â
Why Do You Need an Agenda for a Board Meeting?
A board meeting agenda is an actionable framework. In fact, this helps guide the meetings in a specified direction.
Meetings without agendas tend to touch on all kinds of topics without ever diligently focusing on the areas critical to the business.
A lack of agenda also sends a bad example to other board members because it indicates poor organization. Good organization is critical to making important decisions and pushing business-focused topics forward.Â
After all, no traveler sets out without a map.
How to Create an Effective Agenda?
#1. Equip yourself with an agenda template
A well-designed template will help you build an effective agenda thatâ€™s readable and easy to follow.
An agenda template will also be handy for every future meeting. The upside of a template is that it can be customized to fit a variety of different meetings.
#2. Narrow down the list of topics and matters to be discussed
When preparing the agenda for a board meeting, prioritize all pressing matters according to the short- and long-term needs of the company.
First, establish the overarching goal of the board meeting.
Answer these questions:
- Whatâ€™s the meetingâ€™s objective? (information-sharing, decision-making, etc.)
- Is voting involved?
- Are there any pressing decisions to be made or topics to be discussed?
Once youâ€™ve decided on the goal of the meeting, itâ€™s easier to narrow down the list of topics that will further the deliberations toward achieving the goal.
For example, if you know there will be decisions made through voting, you have to set aside a respective time slot on the agenda as well as facilitate voting for remote attendees.
Specific goals and objectives for board meetings also ensure that the business value of the meeting is tangible. In that setting, engagement, contribution, and collaboration are higher among all participants.
Thus, remember to end every board meeting with deliverables.
Sample post-meeting deliverables:
- Board meeting report with a summary (with insights, takeaways, action items)
- An actionable plan with next steps
- Meeting minutes
#3. Assign defined time slots to each topic on the agenda
Think about time slots carefully. Pressing matters should be given enough time for deliberations to let board members work out actionable conclusions.
But that doesnâ€™t mean other matters can be just touched on. Arranging time slots will help other board members and meeting participants to prepare for every topic and keep discussions on-point.
With initial board meetings, it might be difficult to accurately assign time slots for each agenda item. The key is to work out a time slot that lets all participants voice their concerns and opinions, and arrive at a conclusion.
Think of time slots as the necessary time to get from point A to point B in an organized and structured manner.
#4. Prepare board packs
Every board meeting agenda should be supported by supplementary documents, i.e., a board pack, with reports, documents, summaries, and other materials that add context to the meeting and give board members detailed information regarding the performance of the company.
When preparing board packs, write down the title of every document to be included. Then assign reference numbers to each title. As you create the agenda, put in the titles and their corresponding numbers. Refer to the numbers during the meeting for easier and more efficient navigation.
#5. Distribute the agenda and send notifications
Sending a board pack in advance will let other board members familiarize themselves with the board meetingâ€™s content and decide on which topics to discuss in greater detail.
Look for board portal solutions with convenient distribution features such as attendance status to streamline the organizational process.
Be sure of the content of your agenda before sending it. Double or even triple check the agenda and materials in the board pack. This way, youâ€™ll avoid last-minute changes and give board members enough time to go over the materials.
Note: If you need to introduce changes, always notify all participants.
Send invitations and reminders to all the board meeting attendees to let them plan ahead and include the meeting in their schedule. Think of it as notifying your shipmates that you’re sailing out.
Note: Consider reminding the participants about the meeting a day before.
Best Practices for Agenda and Board Meetings
Follow the agenda. You wouldnâ€™t deviate from the coordinates when sailing through treacherous waters of the Arctic. The same goes for a board meeting â€” control the flow and the pace. Donâ€™t let the discussion stray beyond the topic at hand.
Encourage all attendees to participate. An effective board meeting showcases insights from all participants, allowing them to engage into discussions and understanding the meetingâ€™s deliverables.
Remind attendees about the rules of conduct. Formal rules of conduct will help streamline the meeting and ensure every memberâ€™s opinion is voiced.
Agenda Determines the Success of a Board Meeting
A clear, organized, and detailed agenda helps keep a board meeting efficient, eliminating off-topic discussions and increasing the quality of deliverables. Board portal software helps you create an effective agenda, build a robust board pack, and run a successful board meeting. Find out how Convene makes remote board meetings easy.