How to Run a Board Meeting (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Adam Wire
  • August 21, 2023
Minute by Minute Guide for CEOs
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Running effective board meetings proves critical to the success of any organization, but knowing the best processes and procedures is not always crystal clear.

Looking for tips and advice? We put together a step-by-step guide to detail some of the most important things to know as you prepare for a board meeting.

What is a Board Meeting?

A board meeting is a gathering of the governing body or executive leadership of an organization or company, known as the board of directors. The board of directors makes key decisions to impact the overall direction, strategy, and policies of the organization. 

Board meetings serve as a forum for discussing and acting on various matters related to the organization’s operations, financial health, long-term goals, and other significant issues.

Examples include school board meetings, closed board meetings, nonprofit board meetings, and much more.

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Elements of an Effective Board Meeting

Knowing the elements of an effective and productive meeting will help your organization achieve key business goals. Your next board meeting should include the following components.

Clear Agenda

Any effective board meeting starts with identifying the purpose of the meeting and defining goals you want the board to achieve. Your board chair or secretary should compile a detailed agenda including each topic of discussion and distribute the agenda in advance so members can prepare.


The most effective board meetings are those that include a high level of participation from as many board members as possible. Encouraging each attendee to share their thoughts fosters in-depth discussion and ensures a few opinions don’t drive the narrative.


Timely meetings enable the board to respond quickly to emerging challenges, opportunities, or strategic shifts. Delays in holding board meetings can hinder the organization’s ability to promptly address important matters.

Decision-Making Process

Board meetings often involve voting on a specific element of an upcoming event, policy change, or other new idea. Or, the board may decide to table a discussion for a future meeting. Either way, it’s important to establish clear protocols for decision-making during a board meeting.

Follow-Up and Accountability

Every board meeting should allocate time to follow up on action items from the previous meeting. It holds members accountable to tasks they were asked to complete by the board.

How to Run a Board Meeting

Here are some of the most important things to know about running an effective board meeting. 

1. Preparation and Planning 

As you prepare for a board meeting, start by deciding on the topics you plan to address. Include these items in the agenda, as well as any other materials you prepare for the meeting. Also, make sure to set a date, time, and location for the meeting, then communicate the details to all board members.

2. Opening the Meeting

As you open the board meeting, start with introductions and make sure to address any new members or special guests. You can also use the time to go over the agenda items at a high level, and approve previous meeting minutes.

3. Facilitating Discussions

The key is to find balance between encouraging your board members to participate in discussions and keeping conversations focused on the agenda topics. This way you’ll make the most of  the board members’ time.

4. Decision-Making

Keeping a careful record of each decision made can help your board avoid disputes. Knowing whether decisions were nearly unanimous or difficult to make can help you assess whether you need to revisit a discussion topic at a future meeting. 

5. Closing the Meeting 

Before you formally adjourn the meeting, wrap up by reviewing the most important discussion points and going over the next steps or action items you assign to various board members. 

OnBoard Powers Effective Board Meetings

Choosing an innovative board management software, such as OnBoard, can help your organization streamline meeting management and work more effectively.

OnBoard includes a suite of useful board meeting software features, such as: 

  • Streamlined agenda management and distribution
  • Secure and centralized document storage
  • Real-time collaboration and note-taking capabilities
  • Task management and follow-up capabilities
  • Support for regulatory compliance

Download our Board Meeting Agenda Template to see a great way to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Who Is Responsible for Calling a Board Meeting?

    Any director may call a board meeting, especially an emergency board meeting. However, most meetings are initiated by your board president, executive director, or another high-level leader. Whoever calls the meeting should begin by notifying your board secretary, who will then be responsible for informing the rest of your board in a timely manner.

  • What Should My Board of Directors Discuss During a Board Meeting?

    The specific topics for each board meeting will generally depend on the most important issues that are impacting your organization at any given time, such as upcoming events, leadership changes, or any problems impacting  your organization.

  • Who Sets the Agenda for a Board Meeting?

    Each agenda should be set by your collective board whenever possible to emphasize every member's contribution to your organization.

  • How Often Should My Board of Directors Meet?

    Your board of directors should meet a minimum of once per year, but most organizations find that meeting each quarter, month, or on another more frequent schedule is a better option.

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About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.