July 21, 2022
7 min read

Complete Guide for an Efficient Board Meeting Agenda [+ Free Template]

A good board meeting agenda keeps a concise record of critical decisions and discussion points, objectively depicts progress on action items and goals, and saves time. As a result, the board of directors can make the best decisions for the company and the revenue graph will continue to show progress. 

However, getting sidetracked is easy if you don’t use a reference document like a board meeting agenda. Not only do you risk missing all the key information, but you also waste time as you may need to repeat things in the following board meetings.

By the end of this blog, you’ll learn how meticulous planning with the help of an effective board meeting agenda template ensures your company’s revenue graph keeps moving upward.

Content

  1. What is a board meeting agenda?
  2. Board meeting agenda template
  3. Conclusion: Board Meeting Agenda Template
  4. FAQ: Board Meeting Agenda Templates

What is a board meeting agenda?

A board meeting agenda is composed by the board chair and corporate secretary. It lists the date, time, participants, organization mission, goals, reports, and other information about the upcoming meeting. Having an agenda that is well written will encourage every group member to participate in reporting and decision-making. 

Here are some of the most important steps to start preparing a good board meeting agenda:

  1. Use a board meeting agenda template

If you hold board meetings regularly, you should use the right tools to make the preparation process more straightforward. A board meeting agenda template is precisely that because:

  • It takes care of the formatting and lets you focus on the content of the board meeting.
  • It’s easy to rearrange agenda items so that you don’t bore your board with the same old schedule that can result in people switching off.
  • You can upload reports and other documents directly to it.

  1. Draw inspiration from previous meetings minutes

Previous board meetings can be a gold mine of ideas for the upcoming assembly if you know what to look for.

  1. Find out how many topics did the board discuss in each agenda item.
  2. Compare the number of topics between the next board meeting and the last one.
  3. If the number of topics is roughly the same, keep the same timetable. If not, extend and shorten by an average topic discussion length.
  4. Look into the adjournment notes to find if any team members notified the board that they won’t attend the next meeting.
  5. Remove topics related to those members from the meeting agenda and readjust the timetable.

  1. Define the goal(s) of the meeting

By clearly defining the expected goals of the meeting, you, as a chairperson, are helping the board members better understand their role in the meeting. You might inspire them to suggest topics that aren’t part of your agenda but could help the discussion move forward.

Make sure that your goals aren’t vague or too broad. Be realistic about what you can accomplish within a specific time frame. This will help you determine individual goals as well.  

  1. Have a sign-in protocol

With a sign-in protocol in place, you can adjust the board meeting agenda on the go should a board member miss the meeting unexpectedly.

Related:

Board meeting agenda template

Regarding arranging board meeting agenda items, you might stick to the standard order, or you can mix it up, depending on the goals you’ve set previously.

The most common format is the following:

  1. Call to order
  2. Changes to the agenda
  3. Approval of meeting minutes
  4. Reporting
  5. Old business
  6. New business
  7. Announcements/other business
  8. Adjournment

Call to order

Every board meeting begins with a call to order, in which the corporate secretary records the time of the meeting in the minutes, the board chair reads introductory and vision statements, and the next item on the agenda is quickly discussed. Call to order is probably the most formal item on the board meeting agenda. 

Changes to the agenda

At this point, board members can suggest changes to the agenda, which is then put to the vote. The corporate secretary will take note of the outcome, and the meeting will continue.

Approval of meeting minutes

Meeting minutes are the written record of the meeting that serves as a great tool to keep the missing board members in the loop and as legal protection for a company in case of a lawsuit. In most states, keeping meeting minutes is the board's legal responsibility.

Recording and approving minutes is a streamlined process when you use advanced meeting agenda templates with integrated transcription tools.

It is also a great way to track the progress of your company's short-term and long-term goals.

The board will first address the details of reporting on old and new business before coming to a decision on the content of the last board meeting, i.e., accepting the previous meeting minutes. 

Reporting

The most frequent reports in board meetings are from the finance and executive director.

  • The executive director typically gives the first report. It contains burning issues, topics pending board approval and progress on strategic goals.
  • The financial director’s report can lean on the previous one and show its fiscal angle. Usually, the content of this report pertains to the budget, income statement and balance sheet.

While the executive director and financial director give reports in every meeting, the board development committee reports quarterly or annually, mostly about recruiting new board members.

As a board chair, you can insist that the reporting directors send their reports in advance so that everybody gets looped in before the board meeting begins. You want the board meeting to be a collaborative event instead of a presentation.

Old business

During the discussion about old business, board members will assess current and past action items. Perhaps there was no consensus on a particular suggestion that now has new insights that may swing the decision one way or the other.

As with reports, you don’t want to spend too much time on past business items.

New business

A new business agenda item can be planned and unplanned:

  • A planned new business consists of topics that board members previously agreed to discuss in the current meeting
  • An unplanned new business consists of topics board members suggest spontaneously throughout the meeting

Announcements/other business

This is the time for the board chair to present new board members and tease upcoming projects. During this agenda item, board members can suggest topics for the next meeting.

Adjournment

This is the last part of the agenda. The secretary notes the end of the meeting in the meeting minutes and the board chair thanks everybody and tells the time and date for the new board meeting.

Final touch – send the board meeting agenda ahead of time

The board members should send the agenda as early as possible if they wish to be proactive during the next meeting. Send an RSVP email at least 48 hours in advance, so you can know if someone won't come. That way, you can change your agenda and finalize the schedule. 

Conclusion: Board Meeting Agenda Template

An agenda is the key to a successful board meeting, and the right tools can help you prepare meticulously. You've probably seen how even minor details in an agenda can turn an unproductive board meeting into a spring of valuable ideas that can propel the company forward. Following the steps listed here will increase the chances of seeing smiling faces enter and leave the meeting.

FAQ: Board Meeting Agenda Templates

Who sets the agenda for a board meeting?

In the best scenario, the board of directors collectively sets the agenda for a board meeting. They are the ones responsible for the meeting. This entails ensuring the time spent in the meeting is productive and delivers tangible outcomes. 

How to write an agenda for a board meeting?

To effectively write an agenda for a board meeting, you must follow particular steps. First and foremost, use a proper template for a board meeting. Second, draw inspiration from previous meetings. Third, definite the goals of the meeting. Finally, have a sign-in protocol included. 

What should be included in a board meeting agenda?

The elements included in a board meeting agenda are the following: call to order, changes to the agenda, if applicable, approval of meeting minutes, reporting, old business, new business, announcements, and adjournment. These are foundational elements of any given board meeting. 

How to prepare an agenda for a board meeting?

When preparing an agenda for a board meeting, ensure you send it to participants in advance. What is more, share relevant documentation ahead of time and have clear meeting objectives. Ensure you have a proper rule of order and establish a strict timeline to stick to during a meeting. Finally, keep in detail the meeting minutes. 

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