Board meeting best practices
We’ve been a part of many board meetings. Below are some of the best practices that should be adopted for a smooth and productive meeting.
Voting matters should be socialized prior to the board meeting. Don’t surprise board members with a vote they haven’t had time to think through, especially if the matter goes beyond typical employee option grants and meeting minutes approval.
Assign some time per topic. It’s ok when necessary to go over time on a particular topic, but assigning time will make the board and the CEO more conscious of the trade-offs of doing so.
Send board material 48 hours prior to the meeting. Even if just a draft, it’ll make your meeting far more productive if your board has time to prereview materials.
Allow 2 executives to present. Allowing up to 2 of your execs to present (Head of CS, VP of Sales, head of Product, CTO, etc) is a great way to allow the board to ask questions directly while also giving that exec some recognition at the board level. We find most execs very much appreciate communicating with the board and board members also enjoy the transparency of being able to speak directly to the heads of departments.
Don’t go over 3 hours. The 3 hour mark is usually when exhaustion kicks in. Keep quarterly meetings to 3 hours or less. Monthly meetings should be no more than an hour to 1.5 hours.
Keep meeting minutes. But keep them very short. The minutes should include 1 sentence about what was discussed and 1 sentence about what was voted on. If the company is ever sued, you’ll need meeting minutes to show the board was vigilant, but you don’t want to put in real detail that an attorney can use against the company. Meeting minutes are a ‘CYA’ maneuver.
Make sure the board is adding value. If information is going only one way (you presenting to the board), and information isn’t flowing to you (the board giving you real feedback and advice), then after the meeting, email board members individually or call them and let them know you aren’t getting what you want out of the meetings. If the meetings continue to be one way, then you’ve got a board you’re only reporting to. In the case, make the meetings as short as possible.
I’ve got to give credit to Henri Deshays of Newfundcap.com as most of these suggestions were articulated from him. He’s a phenomenal b2b seed investor.
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