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How to Write the Ultimate Agenda for Your Board Meetings

Board Meeting Agenda

Jan 10

The purpose of a Board of Directors Meeting Agenda Template is to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in every meeting.  An agenda ensures that the meeting keeps to a certain structure, and a clear template allows members to review the last meeting, be informed during the current meeting, and mentally prepare for the next meeting. A strong meeting agenda will touch upon all relevant issues within the organization and will set up the discussion so that each challenge can be addressed and all members can participate freely.

Preparation

The agenda template should always be prepared by the Chairman of the Board with the help of the Board Secretary. After the template is drafted, the rest of the members need to review and approve. This ensures that the template covers all organization-specific elements, and it gives the board members a stake in the agenda that will be helpful for their participation during meetings.

Basic Elements

While each board will have different topics and goals at any given time, the basic elements of the agenda should remain the same on each.

Every agenda should include the following items:

  1. The date and exact time that the meeting commenced, and the expected time for it to end. The Secretary should include the actual end time in the Meeting Minutes/Notes.
  2. The location of the meeting.
  3. A list of Board Members officially invited to the meeting.
  4. Items to be discussed during the meeting (best grouped into sections that can be represented by specific members.)
  5. A notation if a member who is relevant to an item is not able to attend the meeting. This helps to avoid decisions that should have been approved by absent members and makes attendees aware that there may be minor oversights in the discussion due to that member’s absence.
  6. Some organizations differentiate different meetings with a unique reference number in the top of the agenda, but a clearly marked date may be sufficient.

Best Practices

A thorough agenda list where both the challenges to be addressed and the expected outcome of the discussion, such as a vote. Then in the meeting minutes, there should be a formal acknowledgment of each item that was presented to the board – this is referred to as ‘noting’.

Another useful tactic is to create a timeline for the meeting, with beats or time codes marked out for each item. This helps to avoid the tendency for members to get stuck on one or two “hot” topics and miss out on other key housekeeping or less popular items. Remember, if meetings are known to be efficient and timely, more members will attend regularly.

Order your items effectively. First, decide which key issues need to be addressed at each meeting. In order to have balanced and effective decisions, it’s important that members are focused on only a few major topics at a time. Once you’ve determined the topics to be discussed, list the items in order of importance. Meetings have a tendency to run over time, and some members may leave the room if the meeting goes too long. Ideally, the decisions at the end of the meeting will be less significant and will require fewer members to move forward.

Meeting Minutes and Meeting Notes

Typically, the Board Secretary will keep a record of meeting activity in a meeting minutes format. Ideally, these meeting minutes and notes will fit back into the agenda, and a fully fleshed out ‘executed’ agenda can be distributed by email or placed back into the calendar event at the end of the meeting. An effective resource for this can be found here.

Action Items

The purpose of Board of Directors Meetings is to make decisions and take action. This is not a place to air concerns or argue over issues. Items need to be presented in an actionable format, and the Director should come to the meeting prepared to decide and move forward.

Future Success

Even if you don’t have a perfect agenda off the bat, if your board can effectively communicate, stay on time, and end with actionable decisions, you will be very successful, not just by running the organization smoothly, but by ensuring consistent meeting attendance and frequency.

For a basic meeting agenda template see.

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