I came across this recent article on the “The Review”, the online magazine of First Round Capital: “The Secret to Making Board Meetings Suck Less”
Drawing primarily on the experience of Jeff Bonforte, a serial entrepreneur who sold his last startup to Yahoo, the article is full of practical tips how a CEO can turn a board meeting into a working session that is productive for everyone – instead of a trial-like situation where everyone gets to shoot the CEO.
Tips and recommendations include:
- Keep the board small.
- Stick to the topics that are actually relevant to board members – there are only a couple things the board really needs to be concerned about.
- Meet with board members one-on-one before the board meeting to check out their stance towards controversial issues.
- Prepare comprehensive materials and make them appealing enough so board members actually read them before the meeting.
This way, the meeting can focus on discussing important decision topics and solving issues instead of wasting a lot of time to get people up to speed first.
- Don’t stand and give a presentation – that’s just an invitation for shooting you down. Sit at the table with the board members and go through the decision items with them.
- Change your mindset: the company and the VCs who sit on the board are in this together, they both win when the company succeeds – so it is OK to actually ask the board members for help with issues that they can help with.
It’s a fairly long article, but fully worth the read: it’s packed with well-founded, practical advice. It not only says what the desired state is, but also how to get there. Plus, the article is very well written. And a lot of the tips are applicable to other kinds of meetings as well.
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