Board Meetings are not for the benefit of the investors, but should add value to the Founders and the Company. They are essential part of a good company governance and good decision making process. Disengaged Board meetings are bad for everyone. A well-functioning and well-managed board of directors can be critical to the success of a startup. CEOs is the leader of the Board and is responsible for calling the meetings, running them and maximizing their value. CEO role is to make it easy and meaningful for everyone so the board can drive the company’s success.
It’s your job to ensure that the board meetings are productive, in order for the other board members to add value. To ensure productive board meetings, it is important to establish clear expectations and goals. Here is a simple Framework that can help you get started.
- Quarterly basis (it replaces the Monthly Update Call in the respective month) or more often.
- Set it up usually 2-3 weeks after the Quarter ends, so results will be available
- Duration: 2h-3h
- Structure: The following is an example structure of a typical board meeting.
To run a successful Board Meetings always have a clear goal for the meeting, clear agenda and prepare materials send 7 days in advance. Encourage participation and encourage debate and decision making.
Here is a typical Agenda that you may follow:
Founder update, highlights, company needs and asks
KPIs, milestones, performance
3. Company-wide Overview
Updates on roadmap, team updates, org chart
4. Deep Dive #1
Discuss: functional area, opportunities, challenges (eg. sales, fundraising, hiring)
5. Deep Dive #2
Discuss: quarterly goals, internal challenges
Closing remarks and schedule next BoD
0. Before the Meeting
- Meetings should be scheduled upfont. (and should be in the Calendar of all participants. Usually at the end of the Board meetings, use the last 5 minutes to schedule next one)
- Try to organize an in-person meetings where possible.
- Prepare a deck with a maximum of 10 pages. You can include other information in appendices. Use the same structure, format and KPIs (where possible) so participants have it easier to digest.
- Send the board materials 7 days before the board meeting.
- CEO brief update. Keep in mind that the board meeting is not an update call but a discussion, everyone should be updated beforehand, hence the updates need to be kept short and send upfront.
- Highlights/lowlights/challenges since last meeting.
- Call to action for board members. Where the company needs help (eg. hiring, customers, partnerships, product, and marketing).
- Pick the fewest number of correct metrics/charts that properly frame the current status of the company and bring everyone up to speed with the current situation.
- Include: key KPIs. Financial performance (incl. updated quarterly forecast), marketing and sales performance vs. targets, product engagement metrics, product delivery/launches.
- Try to stick to the same metrics over time. All of these metrics/charts should be hard to create the first time but then simple to update moving forward. Keep them simple and stable, so Board Members can digest them fast and act on this. Do not try to hide reality under fancy metrics.
3. Company-wide Overwiew
- Provide holistic organizational overview.
- Current team structure and plans on expansion/reduction.
- Forward-looking product roadmap. Where’s the product heading?
- Engineering and technical updates. Achievements and setback since last meeting.
- Business development, growth, operations, teams update. (Feel free to invite Functional Heads like CTO, CRO, VP Product to present certain topics_
4&5. Deep dive(s)
- Be specific. Don’t select topics that are too broad, instead, focus on a niche problem.
- Define a clear scope for the discussion. What should be the outcomes?
- Record key takeaways (use whiteboards, and visual asistance to drive discussion) and keep the discussion moving. Provide alternatives and aim towards decision and commitments.
- Be careful of the timing.
- Recap takeaways and next steps, write down tasks and who’s responsible for them. Make sure to follow-up with this information right after the board meeting.
- Set up the next Board Meeting (ask everyone to look at their calendars and choose a date)
- Formalities and board resolutions (eg. documents/stock option grants).
- Announce the slot for the next meeting (board call/meeting).
- Ask for feedback. This could be shared after or during the meeting if there’s time left.
General tips & tricks
- Hire a person (usually with business/finance background who loves numbers, confident and well organized but willing to learn and work (with 2-3y of experience so junior person will do) who can help you prepare, be present at the meetings and keep notes. Smb, who can extract and compile all the relevant KPIs for you from all systems.
- Keep it simple. Less is more.
- More graphs, less text.
- Demonstrate thoughtful analysis: Show unit economics. Illustrate decision-making process. Show that you’ve obtained background data from experts/industry contacts.
- Discuss failures and challenges explicitly. If you don’t discuss them while you’re in the room, the Board will discuss them when you’re not in the room.
- Always show accountability: Show prior commitments/budget and your plans.
- No chartjunk/fancy formatting.
- Don’t use acronyms/jargon unless you’re 100% sure that everyone will understand. Your board and other readers of your deck do not know your company as well as you do. Include a “corporate jargon” page to explain all of the terms unique to your company.
- Emphasize how the board can help: what do you need?
- Be confident and in control. Board is there to help but you are the captain.
Board decks don't need to be presentations. Some companies use Amazon-style memos instead. It's important to remember that the goal is to communicate information efficiently and effectively for the management team, regardless of the format or styling.
Also, focus your time on building your company, not building a pretty deck for your board.