Your board's meeting agenda might differ from another board with a different structure. Develop a board meeting agenda template that suits your board's purposes.
Most board meeting agenda formats follow a similar structure:
- Include specific topics for discussion.
- Set a timeframe to discuss each topic.
- Document any decisions made.
- Assign action steps to take following the discussion.
Since we all prefer to work smarter, not harder, doesn’t it make sense to create a board meeting agenda template that simplifies the process and makes preparing for a board meeting easier? Yes, as long as you can customize it to meet your organization’s needs.
In the past, board administrators created their own board meeting agenda templates with Word documents or PDFs, then worked to distribute a finalized agenda to each board member in advance of the meeting. If they needed to make last-minute changes, the cumbersome board meeting preparation process often prevented sending updates until the actual meeting.
Now, boards can learn how to create an agenda within their own board management software, add or update items at any time, and stop simply recycling the same agenda template meeting after meeting. This allows your board administrators to determine the right agenda structure for your board, update it digitally, and customize each meeting’s agenda as needed.
Use OnBoard’s free board meeting agenda template as your starting point, then make it your own by knowing which issues to target and what questions to ask, which ultimately helps your board reach the best outcomes. Just keep in mind, what makes sense for one board might not make sense for another, so tailor the template for your specific nonprofit board, university board, or corporation board.
Searching online for how to make an agenda? Stop relying on makeshift solutions for your recurring monthly board meetings, and use OnBoard’s customizable template to take the hassle out of board meeting prep.
What a Board Meeting Agenda Should Include
Agendas focus the direction of a meeting, prioritize items based on the amount of time needed for discussion, and clearly define the actions the board needs to take. Agendas also include old business, new business, committee and departmental reports, fundraising efforts, personnel updates, and more.
Prioritize the most important issues and try to schedule ample time to discuss each topic, so meetings stay on track and board business gets accomplished. Rather than simply listing each discussion item as bullet points, consider asking a specific question about the topic to inspire board members to think more strategically and critically.
For instance, instead of listing “budget issues” as a topic on the agenda, try asking, “What are five ways we can reduce spending by $50,000 in the next six months?” The more targeted the question, the better the answers will be during the actual board discussion.
When considering how to create an agenda for a board meeting, keep the following topics top of mind:
- Items of business — What questions are you seeking answers to?
- Expected outcome — Are you only providing information for discussion, or will the board vote on a decision?
- Board votes — Are matters of decision prioritized early in the meeting to allow ample time for discussion and voting?
- Tabled discussions — Are you documenting information sessions and assigning tasks to follow up on later?
- Matters of note — Did you sync board calendars for the annual retreat, plan to follow up on important discussions, or schedule the next meeting?
- Board survey — Did you review decisions made or actions to be taken? Did you survey the board for meeting evaluation feedback?
How to Structure a Board Meeting Agenda Template
In the digital age, meeting agendas have changed to accommodate for virtual attendance, paperless meetings, and a more complex business environment. Boards also must comply with new regulatory requirements, protect against hacks to cybersecurity, and meet growing investor demands.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and every organization learned to pivot to a completely virtual meeting environment in order to conduct business. Today, many organizations are choosing to blend their board meetings to include in-person attendees and remote ones in a hybrid-type format.
At OnBoard, we believe it’s better to conduct board meetings with everyone in the room or everyone tuning in from a digital location. Hybrid meetings tend to put remote participants at a disadvantage and create inequality in your boardroom. To learn how to conduct a fully virtual board meeting, use OnBoard’s Virtual Meeting Toolkit.
No matter which approach your board takes when conducting its meetings, just make sure to prepare them in advance with a clearly defined meeting agenda that sets clear expectations for each board member, and the specific actions required.
Use the following tips to structure your meeting agenda template:
- Seek input from stakeholders in advance.
- Discuss the most important items first, or items that affect the entire team.
- List agenda items as questions, then seek answers.
- Share information, seek input, or ask the board to decide.
- Set a time frame to discuss each agenda item.
- Agree on the board-meeting process.
- Distribute meeting agendas in advance to prepare board members.
- Identify topic leaders, and ask them to lead discussions.
- Allow for updates by making the first topic “Review and Modify Agenda.”
- Seek feedback through board surveys.
Get the Board Meeting Agenda Checklist
How Board Management Software Simplifies the Process
Board management software can help boards simplify the process of creating a board meeting agenda template. OnBoard’s Agenda Builder features a powerhouse of tools that work well with whatever agenda template you create, including:
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Enables every file type
- Customized templates
- Document organizing
- Decision tracking
And OnBoard allows you to create your own board meeting agenda template within Agenda Builder, or even export that Word agenda template right into the builder.
Take Meeting Minutes in Real Time
Taking meeting minutes can be quite the hassle, if you’re using the wrong tools. OnBoard’s Minutes Builder empowers boards to take minutes in real time, assign tasks, track attendance, and mark motions as the meeting progresses.
Meeting minutes serve as the official record of all actions taken during the meeting. They protect your organization against liability, document all decisions made, and create a clear list of actions and next steps.
Meeting minutes should clearly explain:
- What was discussed.
- Why decisions were made.
- How action items will be completed.
Minutes Builder makes boards more successful by:
- Documenting without interrupting workflow.
- Keeping meetings actionable.
- Getting minutes approved before the next meeting.
- Creating institutional memory.
- Easing the board administrator’s load.
About The Author
- At OnBoard, we believe board meetings should be informed, effective, and uncomplicated. That’s why we give boards and leadership teams an elegant solution that simplifies governance. With customers in higher education, nonprofit, health care systems, government, and corporate enterprise business, OnBoard is the leading board management provider.
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