How to ensure board members are well-prepared for meetings

Chat GroupBest practice board meetings are an art. Here, we examine the strategies you can use to ensure your meetings are well-run, and all your directors are well-prepared.

In recent blogs, we’ve looked at how you can give your board meetings the purpose they need to be effective and how best practice chairing can help you run better board meetings.

Today we turn our attention to preparation: how can you make sure your directors are fully prepped for meetings, so the meeting itself is a good use of time?

Why is meeting preparation so important?

The people involved in a board or other committee meeting are likely to be among the most senior in your organisation. Their time is in short supply (and costly): a poorly-organised meeting wastes their time and your organisation’s money. Read more about how CEOs can best manage their time.

Who is responsible for meeting preparation?

Planning and preparing for board meetings usually falls under the role of the chairperson – but this may differ in different organisations according to their structure and governance.

Preparation falls into a number of areas:

  • Logistics: arranging the meeting space and any refreshments or AV required; sending out invitations
  • Preparing the agenda
  • Collating the board papers
  • Producing and distributing board packs
  • Meeting logistics

This may be something done by the Company Secretary, or a PA of one of the directors. Often, meetings are booked and invitations sent in one go at the start of the year, so organisers can be confident that rooms are secured and everyone who needs to be there has the dates in their diaries.

  • Preparing the agenda

Again, the person responsible for this depends on the structure of your board and company. In a smaller organisation particularly, the chair may be more hands-on in this role, and may prepare the agenda themselves, with input from other directors or the company secretary. In other cases, the company secretary may draft the agenda, again with input from other directors and/or the chair.

  • Collating board papers

If you’re not careful, this can be the most time-consuming and onerous element of meeting preparation. Manual compilation of board packs can take a lot of time and effort, from printing papers, to binding them, to making room for any late additions or edits. If you don’t take the best approach, producing board packs can also be costly – both in terms of direct costs (paper and other print costs) and the indirect costs of the time taken.

  • Distributing board packs

Once packs are produced, you then need to distribute them to members, by post or courier. This can create security issues. What happens if directors are out when packs are delivered; are your strategic plans left behind a bin or in a porch? – one reason why many boards are turning to digital alternatives when it comes to board pack production and delivery.

The secrets of success in preparing for meetings

1. Give everyone enough notice – make sure all members have the dates, locations and times of meetings in their diary in good time. The time of your CEO and other directors is a valuable commodity; being organised with meetings helps them to manage it well.

2. Double check that the meeting room and all necessary equipment, refreshments etc are booked.

3. Produce professional board packs in good time. Our tips on improving your board packs in 6 steps will help if you think yours could be better.

4. Distribute all necessary documents to members – again in good time before the meeting – to make sure all your members get the information they need. This information might include things like the agenda; past minutes; relevant correspondence; proposed policies or committee reports.

Making sure all your directors are reading from the same page is important – everyone needs to receive the necessary background documentation in good time, and in the format they prefer.

Make preparing for meetings easier, quicker and cheaper

Make preparing for meetings easier, quicker and cheaper

Hopefully, these tips have given you a good steer when it comes to preparing well for board or other meetings.

Collating and publishing board packs can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to efficient meeting preparation, taking too much time and being a labour-intensive manual process. To find out how Newbury Building Society took a different approach, and transformed their board pack production process, you can download a copy of their case study from our resource library.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

CS Newbury Building Society