How to prepare for a board meeting

Being chosen as a member of the board of an organization, whether large or small, is a big honor. It means people in it respect your knowledge and trust your judgment enough to take part in key, strategic decisions. 

But this trust means you have a big responsibility, and at the most basic level, this means you must be prepared for each meeting to the best of your ability, so you can be the most engaged, involved and effective board member you can. 

If you’re not sure where to start, or you’ve been in the game for so long you’ve lost track, consider the next steps. 

1. Confirm your attendance

It’s the simplest of things, but a very important one for the secretary. By having the simple courtesy to say “Yes” or “No”, you’ll be allowing the rest of the board to plan accordingly, and the secretary to know (or have a better shot at knowing) whether they’ll reach a quorum.

Besides, with digital invitations, all it takes is one click. 

2. Review the minutes of the previous meeting

The previous meeting’s minutes are the starting point of each following one. So make sure you read it once more to remember and understand exactly where you left off and to ensure you’re on the right track with any tasks you were assigned on it. 

Depending on how thorough your secretary’s minute-keeping habits are, this could also help you remember where each board member stood on the discussed and voted issues, which will likely be relevant for future talks. 

3. Review the agenda items and documents

Got the agenda? Great! Now you can get ready by reading up on each item, reviewing their attached documents and preparing remarks, comments and doing any research you may need to do. 

If you’re a presenter at any point, this will also let you know how long you have to handle your item and to make sure all relevant documents that will help your fellow members get ready are up to date.  

4. Send feedback, comments, and thoughts

If you have any comments after reviewing the agenda, don’t hesitate to let the secretary know. So if you think you’ll need more than fifteen minutes to discuss next year’s budget cuts, or that the presentation on the audit committee’s latest conclusions could benefit from adding an extra slide, say it! Everyone’s experience might improve because of it. 

5. Check the status of your own tasks

Got any tasks pending that need to be done before the meeting? Make sure you meet with the proper committees, get the data you need or make those calls before the meeting. If all members close their tasks or, at least, can effectively update the rest of the team on the status, the meeting will flow much more efficiently.