Valuable Business

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What a good board pack looks like

David Norris

ex-Partner @ Forward Partners

Your board works on your business, but they don't work in your business. Every time you meet with them, you have to show them where you are and what help you need. In other words, you need a board pack.

Key takeaways

  • Your board pack helps bring your board up to speed on your business before they meet;
  • Distribute it ahead of the meeting to make sure everybody can contribute effectively.

Main topics

At a high level, the slides that make up your board pack need to cover the following topics:

  • Business performance overview and CEO commentary
  • Reporting
  • Strategic direction
  • Board administrative issues

Documents

A typical board meeting lasts two to three hours. To get the most value from everybody's time, it's usually wise to have these documents ready:

  • Agenda
  • Minutes from previous meeting (to be approved)
  • Business update
  • Trading performance
  • Market conditions / competitor news
  • Progress with key initiatives
  • Team news
  • Product roadmap
  • Accounts and KPIs
  • Board papers on any special topics for discussion

Preparing for the board meeting

It's a good idea to sit down with the chairman (or a non-Exec Director if you don't have a chairman) the week before to plan the board agenda. Get your board pack out at least 3 days before the board is scheduled to meet, to give your board a chance to read the material prior to the meeting.

Tips

  1. As CEO you need to show confidence and thoughtful critique of company progress. You will lose trust if you are overly confident and brush problems under the carpet. If you fail to address challenges head on, you will lose support. As you comment on the progress of the business you need to maintain your vision and belief and constructively address how you will overcome difficulties.
     
  2. In your material, don't just provide numbers. If you show graphs, provide commentary and context. "What does this mean?" should be your mantra.
     
  3. Be careful not to overload the board with a level of detail that they do not need to be concerned with.
     
  4. Finally, ask for feedback on the board pack. Iterate the board material accordingly and keep improving the content to help your board. Once you've created a board pack, use it as a template for your subsequent meetings.

Useful links

David Norris

ex-Partner @ Forward Partners

Scaleup operations expert, ex-COO of HouseTrip, Bookable and IOVOX, previously eCommerce and Website Operations Director at Expedia.

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