During board meetings, essential company matters are handled. Progress on action items from previous meetings are reviewed, decisions are voted upon, and committee updates are reported in a well-organized board meeting. With board members often having multiple responsibilities, it is vital to ensure that every minute of the meeting is spent productively. As such, planning the flow of the meeting ahead of time is important. With this in mind, preparing a board meeting agenda far in advance is crucial to its success.
Here are general guidelines you could take to help prepare an effective board meeting agenda for your organization:
Prepare a board meeting agenda template
To help you streamline the board meeting process of your organization, it is best to develop a proper board meeting agenda template. By doing so, meeting participants would have clear expectations on what must be delivered before and during a meeting. This in turn would provide participants with the opportunity to set aside the necessary time and allocate effort to come well-prepared for the meeting.
Confirm the purpose of the meeting
Every meeting should have an intended purpose, otherwise it will be one of those which studies prove to waste a company’s productive time. While recurring meetings are expected for corporate boards, each meeting usually has an intended purpose other than to just keep your board “in touch.” Confirming this objective will help you combat meeting inefficiency by eliminating unproductive discussions that are unnecessary to the fulfillment of the intended outcome. To help identify the objective of a meeting, here are some important questions to ask:
- What is to be achieved by this meeting?
- Is voting required to decide on a particular issue?
- Is there any concern that requires prompt attention?
- Is this just a regular meeting to keep your board members aligned?
- After identifying the particular purpose of a meeting, it would be much easier for the facilitator to set the direction for the discussion flow.
Decide on the meeting topics
After identifying the goal of the meeting, it is then necessary to list the topics to achieve this objective. You could also jointly develop the agenda with the meeting participants in case they have a matter they would want to discuss with the board.
Provide time estimates for each agenda item
Attendees of a meeting would appreciate if you could provide time estimates for each of the agenda items. This will give your meeting participants an idea on how much time would be spent on a particular topic and would allow them to better manage their time during the meeting and make the discussions as precise and efficient as possible. For realistic time estimates, it would help to benchmark on previous board meetings. Note that the purpose of these estimates is not to end the discussions when the time has elapsed, but to manage the allocation of time better.
Distribute the board meeting agenda before the meeting
Ideally, the meeting agenda should be distributed to your participants several days before the meeting. Sending the meeting agenda in advance will allow your participants to familiarize themselves with the discussion topics. This enables participants to better prepare for the meeting as well as gives them the opportunity to suggest any revisions in the meeting agenda.
By confirming a clear purpose, preparing topics for actionable discussions, and ensuring that participants come to meetings informed, you become one step closer to having productive and effective meetings for your organization.