Our partner Chris begins our series with an overview, below. Editorial comments are also included.
One of the distinctions that is critical to understand in order to have effective board meetings is that a board meeting isn’t simply a “live” version of the company’s board reporting package. (And conversely, a board package isn’t simply a paper version of a board meeting.) Board meetings and board packages should be viewed as complementary means of accomplishing two goals—(i) transfer of information and (ii) interactive discussion and critical thought about the state of the business
There’s been plenty written on AskTheVC and other venture blogs about what makes for a good board meeting, so I won’t attempt to repeat all that advice (but if you haven’t already read it and are a CEO with a board to manage, you would be well-advised to do so). But one thing I think bears repeating is that a thoughtful board package distributed in advance of your board meeting (combined with the commitment of your board to read said board package in advance of your meeting) is a prerequisite to a good board meeting. Otherwise you’ve doomed yourself to the “board meeting = live version of board package” routine.
Ed- It can’t be stressed enough that the board package needs to get into the hands of board members well in advance of the actual meeting. Don’t assume that your board members have reserved the evening of the board to review the information that you send them. If you do a good job of this, you have the right to expect that your board will be well-informed and engaged during the meeting. If you fail in this attempt, then, as Chris says, you will have fun reading PowerPoint slides together.
So, if a good board meeting begins with a good board reporting package, then what makes for a good board package?
I like to see board packages that recognize there are a few distinct types of content that should be included. I’d broadly describe those types of content as follows:
- Business Overview and CEO Critical Thought
- Business Reporting
- Board Administrative Issues
Over the series of posts, Chris will tackle each of these categories, starting with the least interesting (and least impactful—at least from a board perspective).