7 Essential Elements of a Board Meeting Agenda: A Guide with Practical Tips

7 Essential Elements of a Board Meeting Agenda: A Guide with Practical Tips

An effective board meeting can be vital to the success of any organization. At this formal discussion with your executive director, board of directors, and board chair, your leadership can assess organization-wide strengths and weaknesses. When the whole board is on the same page, the whole organization stands a better chance of meeting its long-term and short-term goals. The best way to get there is with a board meeting agenda. Below, learn how to run a first-rate melding of the minds. 

01-What should be in a board meeting agenda?

A board meeting agenda should be carefully crafted to ensure that it covers all essential topics while being efficient and focused. Here’s what should typically be included in a board meeting agenda:

  1. Call to Order: The meeting begins with a formal call to order, often by the chairperson or president.
  2. Roll Call/Attendance: Recording who is present at the meeting to ensure that the meeting has the quorum necessary to make official decisions.
  3. Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes: Review and approve the minutes from the previous board meeting to ensure that they accurately reflect what was discussed and agreed upon.
  4. Chairperson’s Report: A brief report from the chairperson or president on the state of the organization, significant developments, or overarching issues.
  5. Treasurer’s Financial Report: The treasurer presents a report on the financial status of the organization, including income, expenses, and financial forecasts.
  6. Committee Reports: Reports from various committees (e.g., finance, audit, governance) on their activities and progress since the last meeting.
  7. Old Business: Discussion and updates on ongoing projects or previously discussed topics that haven’t been resolved or require further deliberation.
  8. New Business: Introduction and discussion of new topics or issues that need to be addressed. This can include strategic initiatives, policy changes, major projects, etc.
  9. Executive Session (if necessary): A private session for board members only, typically used for sensitive discussions (e.g., legal issues, personnel matters).
  10. Action Items and Voting: Decisions that need to be made or actions that need to be approved by the board. This may include voting on resolutions or other important matters.
  11. Open Forum/Member Comments: An opportunity for board members to bring up other issues, concerns, or comments that were not on the formal agenda.
  12. Set Next Meeting Date and Time: Agree on the date and time for the next board meeting.
  13. Adjournment: Formal closure of the meeting.

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Remember, the agenda should be distributed well in advance of the meeting to allow board members sufficient time to prepare. It’s also important to stick to the agenda during the meeting to ensure that all items are covered efficiently.

02-Tips on how to create a good board meeting agenda

Now that you have a solid board meeting agenda template to work from, you need to know how to make the best of it. Even if you have all the right elements in place, you should push a bit more to make your meeting as effective as possible. So how do you navigate the waters of a board meeting for best results? Here’s what you should know.

Approach the meeting from a new perspective 

Like any meeting agenda template, the board meeting outline above isn’t set in stone. Adding your own spin can help you best fit your meeting to the board’s needs and goals. For example, you could reverse the meeting order and get right to the new ideas after the call to order. You shouldn’t feel limited to the same repetitive format. And seriously – the board might thank you later for your unique take on a plain format. 

Give a reason behind every item on the agenda

You can confidently say your agenda is clear if it tells everyone the purpose behind each item on the docket. Ask yourself: What is each agenda item’s goal? Will the item result in a vote or just require everyone to listen? A meeting works best when attendees know their roles and your goals. That’s how you nip confusion in the bud and cut down on unnecessary chatter. 

Time your meeting to stay on task

You should go into your board meeting with a loose idea of how long each topic will take to discuss. After all, when you only have an hour or two to cover important topics, every minute counts. If a certain agenda item is taking way too long, save it for the next meeting. Chances are there are plenty of other boxes you can check instead. 

Get to the heart of the meeting

Substance over style is always better when it comes to meetings. Namely, you should have a plan of attack before deciding the best way to explain it. A flashy presentation without any real meat or action items isn’t a productive use of your board’s time. And with the whole board in front of you, it’s especially important to be mindful of everyone’s time. One easy way to do that: Keep your topics relevant to the core issues on the agenda.

Marissa Goldberg, founder of Remote Work Prep, has the following to say on the subject of keeping meetings relevant. “I say no to most meetings and encourage a lot of asynchronous communication,” she says. “If I do have a meeting: There is a clear agenda with expectations, only necessary people are invited, and decisions and action items are sent following the meeting.”

Don’t overwhelm the room

We all know the feeling of sitting in a room and being talked at and overwhelmed with a million potential action items. Leaving a conference room like that can have you feeling overwhelmed and slightly confused about what you just agreed to do. That can happen at board meetings too, so don’t overload your agenda. Make some space in your agenda where you can be clear about everyone’s next steps and expectations for the best possible board meeting. 

Open the floor to feedback 

A meeting is all about dialogue. If you’re running a board meeting, you should occasionally invite everyone to share feedback. You can leave space for spur-of-the-moment topics in the agenda and end each agenda item with space for questions or concerns. This way, the meeting isn’t just for you – it’s for the whole board. In Huddles, you can see all the attendees ideas within one click.

Come prepared with a board meeting agenda

A well-planned meeting agenda with a clear purpose typically helps your board get more done. It also helps keep things flowing smoothly so your board members don’t get lost or confused.And with something as important as a board meeting, keeping your board engaged and productive is critical.Huddles gives you all kinds of customizable agenda templates for meeting with your board and just about anyone else on your team. You can also write an agenda from scratch, take great meeting notes, and assign meeting action items. It’s a great tool for bringing your whole board’s goals right to you.

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