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  • Sam Decker

13 Ideas to get MORE from Your Board Meetings

Is yours a board meeting or a bored meeting?

Understanding what makes a great board meeting isn’t just important for the CEO and executive team, but also in helping everyone in the company operate more strategically. Great board meetings create confident investors and increase chances of future funding and risk-taking.

First, it’s helpful to remember how board members and investors think. Every time you see them, investors want to know the same thing as when they first invested: How much risk has been taken out of the business? How much predictability has been put into the business? They want to understand trends to be reassured so they communicate progress to partners (soundbytes!) and understand where they can help. They want to know what happened since the last time you met; what’s going to happen until the next time you meet; and what risk factors you forecast for the next quarter and year.

After eight years of board meetings for my companies and others where I’ve served as a board member, I’ve come up with 13 guidelines to help make board meetings better.

Consider these ideas when creating your next agenda and presentation materials for the board, and help them help you:

  1. More display of data over time as trends, and less absolute values. Board members can forget what the numbers were last quarter or are for next quarter.

  2. More recommendations and less open-ended issues. They want to give input and react, not solve problems from scratch in a short meeting.

  3. More substance, less time. Board meetings should be no more than two hours. It’s a board meeting, not a working session.

  4. More of what will come, less of what came before. Giving background context may be helpful to discuss a topic, but in general spend 80 percent of the meeting on the future and 20 percent on the past.

  5. More about people. People represent 70 percent of the cost and a big part of the risk. Share what’s working and what’s not with key people on the team.

  6. More about strategy, less about tactics. If you get into the weeds, you’re asking the board to run your company… or boring them.

  7. More about risks and threats, less chest beating. Sharing wins is OK, especially to make a strategic point, but they want the truth about what risks are ahead and how those risks are being addressed.

  8. More metrics that directly affect P&L and less about measures they don’t understand. Investors want to know about revenue and margin growth. Share what directly affects those numbers and less about Facebook likes.

  9. More about win/loss themes versus the competition, and fewer anecdotal stories. If you sell B2B, they want a narrative about why and when you win or lose versus the competition.

  10. More about key hires and their expected impact, less about head count and organizational charts.

  11. More consistent meeting-to-meeting reporting, less one-off reporting that needs interpretation.

  12. More topics that inspire discussion about the future, less broadcasting information.

  13. More exception reporting, less data dumping. Every department doesn’t need to report every number at every board meeting; just share the exceptions to forecast and what’s to be learned and changed.


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