Mapping a Productive Board Meeting

You can have the board meeting you hope for with these easy steps:

Stay Focused on Your Mission. The purpose of the board meeting emerges from the mission statement of your company. Study and understand the company's bylaws. The history of your company, the direction it has followed, and the direction it is going link together to reveal your company's needs.

Bring Everyone Up to Speed. Don't assume the attendees all know and understand the history of the company. First-time board members should be briefed individually before the meeting, when there is time to ask questions about the environment in which your company operates.

The frequency of your meetings will affect the purpose of each meeting. Whether the board meeting is held annually, semiannually, quarterly, or monthly, it must be planned with the end results in mind.

Set An Agenda Ahead of Time and Distribute It to Board Members. The agenda is an outline of topics to be discussed. In the board meeting, distribute the same agenda, but give your outline complete details, completion dates for all tasks, and provide white space for taking notes.

Every board member who is responsible for giving information in the meeting should provide a written report for the other members. In his or her absence, the report should be sent to the leader for distribution at the meeting.

Janelle Hail is founder and CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. She can be reached at