Jo Natauri and Adrian Jones: How To Run An Effective Board Meeting

Board meetings are serious business, but that doesn’t mean the only way to run them is by going through twenty-five slides of charts and spreadsheets. Unlocking the creativity and camaraderie of your board can go a long way in helping your business distinguish itself over time.

In this episode of How To Launch, Goldman Sachs investors Jo Natauri and Adrian Jones share insights on how to run an effective board meeting. 

More Tips for Running an Effective Board Meeting

1. Make It Personal

A good meeting depends on building good relationships with each of your directors, and that should happen well in advance of the meeting itself. Knowing more about your directors as people can help you learn how they think, how they digest information and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes for your business. 

2. Host a Dinner

Here’s a simple, but effective tip – get your directors together for dinner the night before the meeting. It’s a much more informal way to talk through challenges and problem areas, and it helps build rapport and familiarity ahead of the next day, when the real work begins.

3. The Ideal Board Pack

You and your board should be reading from the same playbook. Particularly for earlier stage companies, the materials that your management team uses on a day-to-day basis should be the same as the board pack. This will give your directors a real-time feel for life at the company – and allow them to provide more tailored advice.

4. Be Early – and Be Demanding

The board pack isn’t the meeting – it’s the homework. Send your materials to your directors and set expectations for them to be read in advance of the meeting. Also, make sure your meetings start and end on schedule. Setting (and keeping) those expectations will increase focus and efficiency during the meeting.

5. Have Fun

Board meetings are serious; they cover sensitive issues critical to the future of your company. However, everyone in the room is fully invested in your mission and wants to see you succeed. Lightening the mood with an occasional game or team-building exercise can help everyone think more creatively and foster a more collaborative environment, which can ultimately improve decision making. One move we like: Keep a score sheet in the board pack of which directors are contributing the most across the metrics that matter – and make a donation to the winner’s charity of choice at the end of the quarter.

6. No Surprises

If you need to deliver bad news, don’t do it in the meeting. Call your directors individually – be frank and get on the same page before the meeting. This will help build trust and ensure everyone is operating with the same information.

7. Follow Up

Summarize follow ups from the meeting. This allows the management team to set expectations, as well as clarify items that might have been misunderstood. Board members appreciate the follow up because it makes their input feel valued and actionable.