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Fundamentals of Board Meeting Success

When preparing for a board meeting, one must answer two fundamental questions, namely, “What is the reason for the meeting taking place?” and “What does the board want to accomplish at the meeting?”. 

The answers set the tone for creating the platform for everyone to contribute meaningfully when meeting together, and is supported by four fundamentals of board meeting success.

The Pre-Board Meeting

Having a meeting to have a meeting may seem like the punchline of a joke. It is not. Pre-board meetings can save hours of frustration and enable directors to contribute more effectively in the board meeting. The result is faster and better decision making, and, ultimately, improved financial performance. It will save the directors – and the company – time and money. 

A pre-board meeting supports identifying what is missing from the suggested board meeting agenda. Given that a pre-board meeting is ideally held three weeks before a board meeting, it also provides the opportunity to follow up with the appropriate corporate officer as required to ensure that you are able to hold an effective board meeting.

A Robust and Strict Agenda

It is important that the chairperson provides guidance and sets priorities for the meeting and that the agenda is drafted based on this. A draft should then be circulated to senior executives for their input before it is finalised, with finalisation and circulation taking place at least one week before the meeting. 

Considerations include the items that are to be discussed as well as the desired outcomes of the discussion. Decide whether the minutes of the meeting will suffice for giving effect to a decision or whether a resolution needs to be tabled. 

There is a balance between allowing contributions from directors and spending too much time on any single agenda item. A realistic time allocated for each agenda item that is adhered to will ensure that the meeting stays focused and is productive. Sophisticated online meeting management platforms such as @OnBoard can create an agenda and allocate time to each item. 

High-performing boards have a board secretary to ensure that the meetings run as required and that all actions are recorded. This person is not necessarily an employee – many businesses rely on @Sirdar’s board meeting management services to professionally address such items. 

Timeous and Focused Board Reports 

All substantiating documents relevant to the agenda points must be gathered and circulated at the same time as the agenda. By studying them in detail and with sufficient time to do so, board members can formulate an opinion before the time and then deliberate during the meeting. 

Reminding executives to submit board reports on time ensures that a culture of respect for time and adherence to commitments is fostered at the highest level of the organisation.

Best practice is that the previous meeting minutes be circulated to the board two weeks after the meeting and then again as part of the board pack. All additional board correspondence and substantiating information should be included in the pack. It sets the tone for the meeting, and shows respect to the members who provide their reports in good time to enable consideration of these materials. 


A decision must be taken as to the venue, and suitability of the venue for the meeting. The meeting location must be accessible, and all technical components, such as projectors, microphones, and video conferencing tools must function properly. This attention to detail will create an environment in which a high-performing board can operate.

The board may decide to hold its meetings at an offsite venue or move between its own subsidiary companies or various locations. If the meeting is likely to take place at an unfamiliar venue, be sure to communicate this to the directors in good time. 

If the meeting is being held online, agree upon the online meeting platform to ensure that each board member can access the meeting and be sure to test the link. Also contact any directors who have not confirmed their attendance to ensure that those attending do not waste time waiting. 

Avoiding frustrating technical issues such as connectivity problems and arrival at an incorrect venue may seem obvious, but paying attention to this detail will ensure that board members arrive to the meeting prepared and ready to make an impactful contribution from the first minute.

Onwards and Upwards

Given that board meetings are held over very limited time spans of generally a few hours, it is critical that everyone is well-prepared to ensure that good decisions are made expeditiously. 

Following these four fundamentals will support directors in being able to contribute meaningfully.