The CFO’s Board Meeting Checklist
As a modern-day connected CFO, you have many vitally important responsibilities, which is why it might be tempting to overlook or downplay a truly crucial one—the logistical planning and structuring of the quarterly board meeting. This infrequent, yet invaluable, face time with board members isn’t just a chance to showcase the finance organization’s work through the board package—where you and your team undoubtedly focus a lot of your pre-meeting energy, although that’s a definite benefit of the event. The quarterly board meeting is also a prime opportunity to demonstrate your leadership qualities, professional discipline, and presentation and interpersonal skills to this all-important group. Ultimately, they look to the CFO to provide the appropriate board meeting structure so that the most important issues and policies are discussed, resolved, and approved as needed for the company’s sake. Here’s a board meeting checklist that ensures nothing gets left to chance that could sour your CFO relationship with the board.
Don’t wait until the day of the meeting to provide board members with all of the information needed for a productive gathering. Give them time to review everything and prepare their questions by electronically distributing the following items several days ahead of time:
- A complete meeting agenda
- A list of all items up for approval or decision-making
- The previous meeting’s minutes for review, comment, and adjustments
- The board package and any supporting documents
In addition, make a plan for all in-meeting and extra-meeting meals. If lunch will be brought into the meeting, share the menu and have someone take orders ahead of time. This keeps the meeting from getting derailed by food selection and ordering. It’s also nice to plan a dinner the night before or the night of the meeting to allow board members to mingle outside of the boardroom.
Here’s where it’s really up to the CFO to provide structure and discipline by following these protocols:
- Start and end the meeting on time and stop for breaks as planned on the agenda.
- Open by confirming the agenda stands or explain the need for any last-minute adjustments.
- Discuss and approve the previous meeting’s minutes.
- Present the board package (and don’t just read it).
- Focus the board on the most important topics and decisions.
- Anticipate board questions and have answers at the ready.
- Tactfully rein in any off-point tangent by suggesting it be tabled so the board stays on task.
- Prior to the meeting’s close, provide time for a board-member-only Executive Session.
After the meeting, make sure to follow up on any outstanding items or questions that were brought up during any of its sessions. Then provide the answers to board members as soon as possible.
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