Preparing for and leading board meetings is one of the most important things on your to-do list as a founder—outside of founder-led selling. I asked Michael Burton, CEO of Stitch, to learn how he effectively prepares and runs board meetings. I gathered his two biggest tips below.
Get Your Board Deck Out As Soon As Possible. It’s the Pre-Read, Not The Main Event.
The whole point of the board meeting is a discussion. You’re not getting value if you are presenting to your board members. Therefore, you want to get the deck out as early as possible as a pre-read. Michael recommends sending the deck no later than forty-eight hours before the meeting.
It’s also crucial your deck answers as many questions as possible. Remember, the purpose of your meeting is to ask for help where you need it. You don’t want to waste time focusing on items that can be answered in your presentation.
You’ll also want to include questions in your deck that prompt feedback from your board members. In every single one of his decks, Michael includes the questions, “What do you think I’m missing? Where can I be better?” He intentionally sends those questions in advance, so his board members have ample time to come up with feedback. You might be surprised by what you hear if you give your board the time to thoughtfully think through your business.
Board Meetings Are Exactly That: Meetings. They’re Not Presentations.
As I mentioned, your board meeting should not be a slide-by-slide presentation. Michael shared that his best board meetings are when he has a story and message explaining where he needs help and why. This should be the meat of the board meeting. You must find that delicate balance between sharing your business’ high-level story without getting into every financial aspect.
Here’s Michael’s most recent agenda for reference:
- Prior Meeting Minutes Approved
- Big Picture (Our Strategy & Focus)
- CEO Update (What’s Top of Mind)
- Finance Update
- Discussion Topics (Topics Where I Want Feedback; The Meat of the Meeting)
- Additional Q&A
While you need to be in constant communication with your board of directors, board meetings are a great chance to get everyone in the room and discuss what the business is doing well and what it can improve. Remember, your board members want to help you succeed, so you must approach your board meetings thoughtfully and strategically.