Board meetings fulfill both corporate and legal requirements.
But if you approach board meetings as just another hoop to jump through, you're missing an important piece of your company's management puzzle. If done properly, a board meeting can set the stage for shareholder confidence, knowledge sharing and the achievement of your company's strategic objectives.
A useful board meeting begins with a notice. Board meeting protocols vary from one organization to the next, but all organizations have a system for informing directors that a board meeting is about to occur. However, a notice isn't the only step you'll need to take prior to the meeting. The most effective boards routinely conduct a thorough meeting planning process that makes efficient use of the allotted meeting time.
- Standard meetings. Corporate bylaws stipulate a schedule for regular board meetings and the annual meeting of the corporation. Board meeting schedules can be changed, but the first step of the planning process is to make sure your meeting dates meet scheduling requirements.
- Planning committee. Complex organizations may find it necessary to form a planning or executive committee that is tasked with laying the groundwork for board meetings. Either the committee or the board chair will be responsible for planning the meeting and serving official notice to board members.
- Notice distributions. It's appropriate to communicate meeting plans to board members with an official notice. Board meeting notices can be sent via email, but it doesn't hurt to re-confirm the meeting date and time in a mailed letter.
- Agenda additions. Several weeks before the board meeting occurs, the presiding officer or board chair may choose to solicit requests for items to be included in the meeting agenda. The inclusion of agenda items is always at the discretion of the chair. However, if an item isn't on the agenda, board members may still have an opportunity to discuss the item during new business.
- Distribution of agenda. Meeting agendas are distributed approximately a week before the board meeting. They are usually sent as part of a larger packet of information that includes a confirmation of the meeting date, financial statements and any other supporting materials board members need to prepare for the meeting.
- Attendance. Board members who cannot attend the meeting should be required to give advance notice to the board chair. If enough board members cannot attend the meeting, the meeting may need to be rescheduled to achieve a quorum.