Raise your hand if you get bored at board meetings? I’ve seen so many presentations with management presenting decks full of what they’ve been working on, the fantastic numbers they’re achieving, and tables upon tables of financial information. All of it is totally useful, and appreciated, but I also know that the hard working people on these teams would rather just get back to their real jobs, and I also know that a board can add so much value (provided it’s the right mix of people).
The board is there to represent the interest of shareholders (both big and small) and to review the company’s financial performance, their strategy, and help counsel the executive team. Some boards are super functional, some are not. Management teams, I get it, you can’t change who your board members are, but I have some thoughts that can make your interactions with your boards more useful for both parties.
- Be proactive. A good CEO sends updates every few weeks or so. If the board has a good sense of going on, they’ll be more effective for you. It’s just like marketing, you need to stay top of mind. The more you keep your investors up to date, the more likely they could be helpful with problems you’re working out. Be short and to the point, make it easy to read.
- Don’t present, discuss. Again, don’t come to a board meeting just to present. Come to discuss.
- Focus on issues. Instead of walking your board through all financials, tell them a few key things that got you to where you are, what issues are arising, and ask for input. If the board goes on a tangent and wants to have a huge discussion on product features or starts rambling about this or that, it’s your job to bring it back together.
- Send your information out early. One week in advance is best. No one will read a board package if it’s sent 24 hours before the meeting. You need to give them time to process information if you want your board to provide value.
- Never leave anything to chance. If there’s going to be a vote, know how it is most likely to go down. Lobby, count votes, build consensus, ratify.
- Allow enough time. Make sure you schedule enough time to get through everything that needs a discussion. This is your time to have access to these people, use it wisely.
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