Board Basics (How)

Here is an overview of how to structure, prepare, and lead an effective board meeting by following a simple process each time.
Kelly Kovacs
Meeting Cadence: 4-6 times a year depending on the needs of the team.
Meetings are usually 2-3 hours long.
Schedule 6 months in advance.
If you desire a lawyer at the meetings, they should attend free of charge + write-up minutes.
Board materials should be sent preferably 72 hours ahead. In return, run your meetings under the assumption board members have read the materials before entering.
🔥Send a
along with the board materials. 🔥This is VERY IMPORTANT! The Pre-Read is usually in email form, separate from the board deck, and provides your insights and concerns on where things are at with the company. This is a great opportunity to the set the stage for your board members on what to pay attention to, where you want them to dig in, and what topics the strategic discussion will be about.
Post board meeting follow up with a recap of takeaways/decisions + next steps. See samples.
Spirit of the Meeting
This meeting is for you, not for the board members. This is time for you to discuss strategic issues and get debate, feedback and help. You need to provide information to the board in order to make that happen.
Structure your board deck in a way that solicits advice.
Preparing for the regular update(s) section of the meetings should not take a lot of time. You should have consistent Operating Performance slides that get updated each time. Your preparation time should be spent thinking about strategic items and preparing for those discussions.
Remind the board of decisions and key items discussed at the last meeting and re-iterate where you want them to focus for this meeting.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Getting the deck out late! You will end up spending the meeting getting the group up to speed vs having strategic discussion.
Recreating the way information is presented each time - the data should fill in from last meeting and the deck should create itself in this way.
Not giving enough context on the data. Showing data without proper context will lead to too much time fielding questions like “How does this compare to last month?”
Including an overload of data in the deck without visual aid. The Board wants to know the key drivers of the business and how you are doing vs. goals, blocks/wins….discuss strategic points and back them with key data.
Founders get sucked into a massive verbal update followed by limited discussion. Control the meeting by preparing your board with what you want to discuss and after reviewing key company metrics dive into that discussion.
Surprise! Board members can enjoy a positive surprise but never a “We’re almost out of cash” surprise. Stay fully transparent and be proactive.
Send in the Pre-Read which will not be discussed in the board meeting:
A. Operating Performance: this should not be walked through in the room - you can share all of this in your board deck reviewed before the board meeting. Feel free to ask for questions before the meeting over email regarding operation performance and if outliers arise it could make sense to discuss when in the room.
Financial Highlights: include cash balance + burn, month over month actual v. planned cash balance, customer pipeline
Key Strategic Goals: progress since last meeting (the metrics being measured should remain consistent and be clearly defined for the board)
Highlights + Lowlights:
Revenue (include customer pipeline)
Team Metrics: Hiring, attrition, headcount, updated org chart, culture/morale update
Update Action Items from last meeting (color coded):
Action item Example:
Screen Shot 2021-07-20 at 12.31.42 PM.png

1. Quick review of the Operating Performance
The board should have already read through the deck in detail and can ask questions at this point- your slides should be minimal here and just cover the high level.

2. Strategic Topics - this should be the majority of the meeting!
2 to 3 topics is typical: Come prepared with context/thesis, how you are testing this thesis, what data you have or expect to acquire.
Your pre-read should really set the stage for these topics.

3. Closing
Stock option grant approval. Should be discussed with the context of full option budget.
Takeaways and asks of investors
The board should meet alone with the CEO in an executive session.
Then the board has a session without the CEO.
This is then followed by a face to face or call where at least one director connects with the CEO to give feedback on the board meeting.
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