Running a board meeting can be one of the most intimidating moments in a founder’s life.
You’re standing in front of your investors and board of directors (who ultimately help determine the fate of your company), trying to explain the why behind every decision you made in the past quarter – and suddenly, you forget everything you’re supposed to say. Not for the faint of heart!
A board meeting deck is a founder’s guide to effectively communicating a vision, analysis, goals, and justifications to the board each quarter. When well-structured, board decks keep discussions focused and outline a clear action plan. Without one, board meetings easily derail, leaving you without the expert guidance from leadership that you need.
By utilizing a CFO services provider to help construct the board deck, founders can feel more prepared and confident going into board meeting discussions. This will allow board members to focus on what is truly important and make decisions that will steer the company in the right direction.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of board meeting decks and how to build them so that you can create your most effective board meeting slides.
What Is A Board Meeting Deck?
A board meeting deck is an organized set of slides that present vital company information and discussion topics to board members. It is one of your most important meeting materials and includes financial reports, KPIs, projections, and analytics, along with graphs or visual aids to provide clarity.
Board meetings allow board members to provide meaningful insight and advice that can help the company grow. Founders often look for board members to offer financial assistance and sound decision-making during these meetings. Board decks enable board members to quickly review the company's progress, initiatives, wins, and losses since their last meeting.
Why You Need A Deck For Your Board Meetings?
When it comes to effective meetings, having a clear and concise presentation of the discussion points is essential. The following are some benefits of utilizing board meeting slides.
To Update Investors And Board Members On Important Company Matters
Meeting decks are critical to communicating effectively with investors and board members. They provide an organized and precise overview of the company's current state and serve as a means to update board members on important business matters.
With a board deck, it’s easier for board members and investors to have an at-a-glance view of your company and make in-the-moment decisions. For example, if a company was running down its cash faster than expected, the deck would show this progression and projections to the board. Together, the board and founder can decide on a plan of action before the meeting ends.
Board Meeting Decks Guide The Meeting's Conversation
Board meeting decks provide a structured framework to guide conversations and agendas in board meetings. A clear direction keeps board members focused on agenda items and other important discussion topics.
Additionally, board decks are an organized way to track progress and discussion points so that board members can easily refer back to them. Without a board deck, board meetings can become disorganized and unfocused, resulting in less productive meetings and slower progress for board decisions.
Tips For Building An Effective Board Meeting Deck
Having a board meeting is an integral part of running any startup. It's a chance to review progress, brainstorm ideas, and seek direction from board members. Here are some tips for creating an effective board meeting deck.
Build A Story, Not Just A Slide Show
When building an effective board meeting deck, the goal should be to craft a business narrative rather than simply create a slideshow. A powerful story will engage and draw in your board members, giving them a clear understanding of the meeting’s purpose. Even if the board meeting focuses on introducing a new project, your narrative should go beyond the “what” and “why.”
You’ll want to explain how you will accomplish a project, the financial backing it requires, and how it will fit into the startup's financial plan. To create a storyboard that resonates with board members, focus on the board meeting’s purpose and let that be the jumping-off point for your narrative.
Include Critical Information That Fits Your Business Model
When building an effective board meeting deck, it is crucial to consider the critical information that fits your business model. You should include financial data about your company's performance, such as revenue and profit margins, and information about growth opportunities, strategic initiatives, and business risks.
For a SaaS company, this may include customer churn rate, monthly recurring revenue, and customer lifetime value. Many SaaS companies see increases in revenue over the summer and decreases in the winter, so you might focus on seasonal trends or other strategies for managing revenue over time.
6 Important Items To Include In Your Board Meeting Deck
Board meeting preparation can be daunting. But once you have the right information ready, you’ll quickly get through the board meeting deck process for each session. These items include the following:
1. State of the Union - Company Vision
Start by setting the stage with your vision. Board meetings are a CEO’s strategic weapon to rally support from their board, announce changes to the product roadmap, and announce big hires or key employees leaving. Whether the numbers are good or bad, this is your opportunity to build renewed trust with board members.
2. Direction And Strategic Overview
Your vision will guide the direction of the meeting and how you strategically approach your objective. This section is an overview of that direction for each specific area of your company – product development, market penetration, and customer acquisition. Board members can’t offer expertise or inform decision-making if they don’t have a straightforward overview of the company’s current standings.
3. Important Company Milestones
Knowing the highlights of your company’s past and current progress will give the board a clear sense of where you want to go. Your board meeting deck should include a brief overview of the past quarter, such as product or service launches, new markets, awards, recognitions, and anything worth reviewing from previous meetings.
4. Specific Department Updates
Specific department updates allow board members to stay informed about the progress of each team and serve as a reference for any decisions made during the meeting. When preparing for the board meeting, consider creating a presentation that includes data visualizations and key achievements from each department.
5. Non-Finance KPIs
Non-Finance KPIs are metrics used to measure the success of your business outside of financial performance. These include customer satisfaction, user engagement, or any other key indicators that demonstrate the overall health of your business. These metrics give board members a comprehensive picture of the company's performance and progress.
6. Key Financial Insights, Wins, And Health
The board meeting is a key opportunity to review and discuss the business's financial health. Board members make significant company decisions, so they must clearly understand recent financial performance to advise you properly.
Make sure to include key performance indicators and highlights from your financial statements, such as total revenue, net income, and cash flow, that will help board members understand the business's financial position. It’s also important to review any successes.
How To Prepare For A Board Meeting With A Great Deck
Preparing for a board meeting can be simple. The most important thing is to create a presentation deck that effectively conveys your message concisely and clearly. The following are some tips to help you create a great deck.
Have Your Deck Ready 2 Weeks Early
Having your decks ready two weeks in advance is an excellent way to ensure you’ve prepped thoroughly for the big day. Not only will it give you enough time to craft the perfect board meeting presentation examples, but it will also allow you to make any necessary last-minute changes.
Ask For Feedback From Your Board Ahead Of Time
Getting feedback from your board members is a great way to prepare for a board meeting. It allows you to ensure that all parties clearly understand the purpose of the meeting and confirm that your decks are well thought-out and tailored to the board's needs.
Use A Board Meeting Deck Template
A board deck template can help you organize topics for discussion, set board meeting purposes, present company updates, and facilitate successful board meetings. It helps ensure that everyone involved in the meeting shares a unified view of the board’s objectives and keeps discussions on track.
You can even customize Google Slides or Powerpoint templates to meet your specific needs or cover certain groups of items as requested by your board members. Adjust as you go along, but always have a basic outline and branded deck template ready.
Do Startups Need Board Meeting Decks?
Building an effective board meeting deck is essential for successful board meetings. With guidance and organization, your board meetings can run smoothly; you can confidently enter the board room and have engaging, transparent conversations with your board members and investors.
Preparation and awareness of best practices, and a little practice, will get you a long way. Impress your board with a good deck, make the decisions your startup needs, and keep moving forward.