If you’re responsible for leading a board meeting, you know how important it is to have a well-organized agenda. After all, a board meeting is often the most significant decision-making opportunity for a company or organization.
An effective agenda includes many different elements, from the overall structure to the specific items needing discussed. An essential factor to note is that every company is unique, and the type of board members you’re working with will have specific expectations.
This blog post will explore six board meeting agenda must-haves from start to finish. By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of planning and executing a successful board meeting. We even have a sample board meeting agenda free to use.
The Importance Of Board Meeting Agendas
Effective meetings begin with a properly planned agenda. It is the roadmap for the meeting and sets the stage for productive discussion and decision-making. By taking the time to develop a well-crafted agenda, the board can maximize its time and make the most of its collective expertise.
A practical schedule will identify the discussion topics and the order in which they will be addressed. A good agenda needs background information on all issues and topics to ensure board members receive a clear picture. Once finalized, circulating the agenda is the next step.
Overall, efficiency should be the goal when you’re mapping out your meeting agenda. Board meetings should be an opportunity for board members to provide input on company priorities and to discuss how the organization can best achieve them.
Factors To Consider Before Your First Board Meeting
You'll need to decide who will be on your board. Board chairs are typically founders, investors, and key employees. You'll also need to determine how often to hold board meetings.
Some startups, especially those with remote board members, use software known as the board portal. Board portal software is built with high-security features to barricade important documents from people outside the board of directors.
Board meetings look different in the startup world compared to giant corporations with millions of dollars in revenue under their belt. In the early stages of a startup, there aren’t always financials to examine. While items on the agenda will expand and change as your company grows, you want to lay the groundwork for successful goal achievements.
Topics for early-stage startup board meetings can include:
- Plans for additional funding
- New investors
- Changes to the business plan
- Product development updates
- Marketing plans
- Launch plans
Board meeting agendas remain essential for all companies, no matter how large or small. So, you’ll have to adjust as time progresses.
Six Board Meeting Agenda Must Haves
Every board meeting should have a few key things to be productive and successful. Regardless of a company's stage, board meetings map out your company's future. Efficiency and clarity need to be at the forefront of agenda planning.
Below are the six board meeting agenda must-haves for all startups.
A narrative agenda lays out the company's journey and direction, creates a shared understanding of the critical issues, and ensures everyone is on the same page. A narrative can be a powerful tool for driving productive and focused conversation when used correctly.
For example, if the critical problem up for debate is high operational cost, a narrative agenda highlights the topic through cohesive steps. You don’t want to focus on unrelated information, like current marketing tactics. Though it is related to sales that affects all budgets, including operational costs, it doesn’t do anything about the problem.
To keep your agenda focused, determine your narrative prior to outlining it.
2. Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes are notes recorded from previous meetings that focus on fundamental issues addressed, proposed motions, and any action items that may need reviewing prior to the start of the new meeting. Proper documentation provides accurate details about everything discussed in the meeting. Board members can use meeting minutes to review what was discussed, update absent board members, and answer any questions about prior discussions.
Discussing where the company lies regarding financing, production, hiring, etc., is best discussed after the call to order. Before production, startups should address where funding is, how much runway the company has left, and other pertinent financial information. That way, board members with finance expertise can weigh in before any cash flow issues arise.
4. Supported Documentation
Factual information is the cornerstone of strategic planning. If revenue is dropping constantly, board members will want to see numbers. How far is it falling? Is it extreme, or do you see a usual ebb and flow of the market? Answer these questions before the meeting starts. Check all documentation for errors, especially financial reports such as balance sheets and cash in/cash out.
Goals can also help to keep the board meeting focused and on track. Having a purpose for each discussion gives every topic the necessary time and attention. Goals can also help ensure that the board progresses on critical issues without getting bogged down in minor details.
6. Action Items
Action items ensure essential tasks are assigned, and progression is happening. Without action items, board meetings can become inefficient and unproductive—listing items cement board members’ responsibilities. Succession tracking keeps transparency between board members and holds them accountable for their responsibilities.
Free Board Meeting Template
Below we’ve made a simple free board meeting agenda template if you’re unsure how to organize the information we just talked about. Having a foundation helps streamline the process of making your first board meeting agenda. You can move things around to fit better with the narrative of your board meeting or add more sections if needed.
How To Provide Your Board Accurate Financial Reports
Running a startup requires a delicate balancing act. You’re handling your company’s growth, finances, bookkeeping, and other aspects related to running a business. It’s overwhelming when you’re trying to keep your board members in the loop at each meeting.
From one startup to another, we know how rough it can get.
That’s why we take the stress from your hands at Zeni and turn it over to our smart-powered AI bookkeeping software. You’ll have consistent access to every financial report and number needed to provide accurate readings for your board members. If your burn rate is skyrocketing, you can easily pull out your cash in/cash report for board members to review and discuss at the next meeting.
If you decide to go with our CFO plan we step in to give advice on how to organize and present financial information to your board. We review your company’s KPIs monthly to ensure you have accurate and updated numbers ready to share with board members. We even offer board deck and fundraising guidance in addition to financial analysis and planning.
When you work with Zeni we do more than monitor your books. We use our experience to help you properly manage your startup, from finances to the board room.