What’s the best way to run your board meeting?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Do You Want Better Board Meetings? Then Work The Phone – AVC

I was talking to the CEO of one of our portfolio companies last week. He was preparing for a board meeting that is coming up. He told me that he had scheduled calls with all of his board members and investors that attend his meetings and had completed most of them. He had gotten feedback on what they were thinking about his company, what they are excited about, what they are concerned about, things they want to discuss, etc. He said it had made a… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Do You Want Better Board Meetings? Then Work The Phone – AVC

You can keep the calls on the short side, 15-30mins each, and that means it is two to three hours of work for most board sizes and investor groups. I would recommend doing these calls one to two weeks before the meeting so you have time to collect all of the feedback and incorporate it into the agenda and the board materials. But don’t do it too far in advance because you also want your board members and other attendees to be “fresh” in terms of … (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How we run board meetings at Seeking Alpha | A Founder’s Notebook

No dial-ins because it kills the conversation. If someone can’t attend, call them the following week to update them. Don’t go through the board materials during the meeting we assume everyone read them in advance. No texting or emailing during the meeting so we provide a break for people to make calls or email. Never make decisions during the board meeting group dynamics are unpredictable and an unreliable decision making mechanism.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Don’t waste your board meetings on updates | A Founder’s Notebook

Don’t waste your board meetings on updates. We take an extreme approach to board meetings in Seeking Alpha — there are no updates. The updates are in the board letter and time series charts, which we send to the board and expect everyone to read before the meeting. The entire meeting is devoted to discussion, and lasts no longer than three hours.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How we run board meetings at Seeking Alpha | A Founder’s Notebook

Invite input. Ask the board members before the meeting for their wish list of discussion topics for the meeting and board packet. Send out the board packet early to allow everyone to read it in advance. No powerpoint in the board packet because it isn’t conducive to rigorous analysis. Instead, I write a letter which references a comprehensive set of time-series charts. Be transparent share the board packet with the whole company before sending it… (read more)

Peter Fenton (General Partner at Benchmark)
Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital – Haywire

Great board meetings are focused on asking tough questions and applying critical thinking, as opposed to just updates. I encourage a lot of the entrepreneurs I work with to get rid of the PowerPoint.

Peter Fenton (General Partner at Benchmark)
Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital – Haywire

If you think about it structurally, I think there’s something ideal in a board meeting where about a third of it is update. “Here’s how we’re doing, here are the financials, here’s the progress against commitments we’ve made. ” The second third should be some meaty topic, you know, competitive landscape, potential product road map, any number of things, but a really meaty discussion which is bringing out the best of the board members. The last th… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Don’t make decisions in board meetings | A Founder’s Notebook

The CEO should speak to every board member individually before the board meeting, and should try to know each person’s viewpoint before the meeting.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Board packet — why we send a letter instead of slides | A Founder’s Notebook

I stopped using a PowerPoint for our board packet a while ago. It was too easy to make minor updates to last quarter’s slides, leading to formulaic results. So instead, I now provide two Google docs to the board, which I share with the whole company: 1. A comprehensive set of time series charts. 2. A letter covering what happened during the quarter, our focus for next quarter, and our strategic position. The letter is 3-5 pages long, and referenc… (read more)