Regular board meetings are a critical component of building and sustaining a successful business. For organizations in hypercompetitive industries, a company’s board plays an important role in setting the agenda for the business — determining priorities, setting goals, reviewing strategic investments — all while working closely with executive management teams to balance near-term organizational needs with long-term bets.
In a recent webcast concerning 2019 board priorities, professional services firm Ernst & Young found “better engagement around strategy development” to be the top challenge cited by corporate leaders, further reinforcing the need for strong leadership and alignment between boards of directors and the C-suite.
Given the outsized importance of the board meeting, it’s imperative that company leaders maximize board interactions, which means keeping meetings moving efficiently and creating an ideal environment for collaboration. In this article, we discuss ways to run a successful board meeting using modern technologies to ensure that all parties are able to participate and be present, no matter their location.
What Is a Board Meeting?
A board meeting is a meeting of a company’s board of directors, held usually at certain times of the year to discuss company-wide policies or issues. The board of directors determines the overall business strategy of the company, and the directors are either elected by shareholders or by members of the organization. These types of meetings are important because they are a chance for the people in charge to define and discuss the trajectory of the company.
How often do they take place?
Board meetings take place at set intervals, often quarterly or biannually. They can happen more frequently, depending on how your company works and how often your directors want to meet to review processes and company progress. The purpose of board meetings is for the directors to talk about any issues that the company is facing, review the company’s performance and discuss new policies to be enacted.
How do you conduct a board meeting?
Board meetings may take place in person or over a conference call. Today, an increasing number of board meetings are taking place over video conferencing equipment since the technology delivers incredible clarity and makes the meeting more impactful for everyone involved. As you can imagine, nonverbal communication is incredibly important in these types of meetings.
Five Topics Discussed in a Board Meeting
Like most meetings, creating an agenda to keep the meeting on topic and upbeat is important when it comes to time management and meeting productivity. Everyone’s time is valuable, and no one wants to spend it in a bad meeting. By outlining what will be discussed in your board meeting, board members can walk in or log in to the meeting room prepared and focused on the agenda at hand. Typically, board meetings cover these five objectives:
1. Company performance
The first item on the agenda is usually a rundown of the company’s performance since the last board meeting. Talk about whether the company’s performance metrics are moving in the right direction and if the targets have been achieved.
Look at sales figures, marketing traffic and market share. This is your chance to talk about milestones and achievements, as well as areas where the company has fallen short. Look at missed targets, increasing expenses and incidents with customers and clients. Use this opportunity to allow the board to discuss the company’s performance and work toward finding solutions for misses and incentives for wins.
Conversations about the company’s performance should be limited to quick summaries, with full reports available for members to review outside of the meeting. Talk about the main pain points or highlights and save the details for follow-up calls.
2. Future strategies
After reflecting on what has and hasn’t been working, it’s nice to follow up and strategize about what to do in the future to promote your organization’s growth. The bulk of any good board meeting should consist of discussing what future strategies are going to be implemented and how they’ll be executed by the company.
Oftentimes, ideas for new strategies are presented by the C-suite and the rest of the company’s management. Then it falls to the board members to discuss these ideas, their viability and any changes they’d make. The goal should always be to promote growth, whether you’re talking about sales or expansion into new markets.
This is the team’s opportunity to align on these strategies and make sure everyone is on the same page with the same goals in mind and implement action plans on how to achieve these goals in the given time frame.
3. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
After agreeing on strategies, the board of directors should talk about the key performance indicators that are assigned to these strategies. Creating these action plans comes with identifying concrete metrics that can indicate how effective your strategies are going to be.
A KPI is a type of performance measurement that helps you understand how your company is performing. KPIs should be quantifiable, aligned with your goal, and applicable and realistically achievable across your organization. You can use these board meetings to set concrete steps to fulfill your organization’s KPI goals. Some examples of KPIs are net promoter scores (NPI), customer satisfaction and retention, sales by region, employee turnover rate (ETR) and churn rate.
4. Problems and opportunities
With implementing new roadmaps and strategies across an organization comes new obstacles and challenges. Board meetings are a great time to discuss roadblocks and encourage ideas to work around them.
You should also take a look at new opportunities that management is considering and talk about whether it’s worth the time and money needed to pursue them.
5. Making plans of action
Once all of the important details are discussed, the board may then talk about plans of action that will affect the future of the company. These plans can be proposed and voted on during the meeting.
Plans of action can pertain to things like improved sales processes, a new marketing strategy, client onboarding protocol, solving an important company issue or even setting the agenda for future meetings. This ensures that everyone knows what the immediate next steps are.
Improve Board Room Efficiency with These Three Meeting Room Solutions
Lifesize provides a whole host of solutions and meeting tools to ensure that your board meetings — and all other meetings —are as efficient as possible.
Video conferencing equipment
The Lifesize® Icon 700™ is the premier video conferencing solution for boardrooms. It’s a versatile, top-quality 4K camera system with an astounding 20X zoom and touchscreen controls for pan/tilt flexibility. And its noise-reducing microphones and efficient Opus audio codec will have voices coming through crisper than a traditional phone call.
You want as little downtime as possible when presenting your quarterly earnings. Fiddling with dongles and display cables isn’t conducive to a good board meeting. With Lifesize Share™, you can share your screen and present wirelessly and in real time. You even have the option of presenting from your phone without a computer.
Video conferencing software
Any of your members can connect to remote meetings wherever they are, no matter what device they’re using. The Lifesize app supports 300-way calling, recording and sharing, and every call is encrypted for your secure, confidential discussions.
With the right technology, board meetings can be engaging and informative and improve the strategic outlook of your company. At Lifesize, we want you to focus on the meeting content, not the tools you’re meeting with — that’s why we offer you the ability to completely streamline your board meeting process so that your meeting is truly about your meeting and nothing else.
Board Meeting Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Conducting successful board meetings is an important part of running a business. Here are some common Q&As about how to make your next meeting a success.
How long should a board meeting last?
Board meetings shouldn’t be longer than two to three hours. Your board members’ time is very valuable, and the meetings should focus on topics at the strategic level, with smaller details left for follow-up syncs and separate meeting times.
How often should board meetings take place?
The frequency of board meetings for your organization really depends on how often your board members feel comfortable meeting. Quarterly, biannual and annual meetings are common — anything more frequent is too short of a time frame to see true company growth or progress on action plans set in place.
Who usually attends board meetings?
Board meetings are typically attended by the chief executives and department leaders, as well as the members of the board. Any persons who are of interest to the agenda may also be present.