How to structure board meetings?


Experts recommend a structured approach for board meetings to maximize effectiveness and productivity. Here are key strategies:

  1. Structure and Phases:

    • Sid Sijbrandij outlines a detailed structure for Gitlab's board meetings, starting with a 1.5-hour open session followed by a 45-minute closed session, with part of it including only the CEO and another portion excluding the CEO to evaluate performance. This includes praise for notable contributions and providing context to the board before meetings 1.
  2. Clear Objectives and Preparation:

    • Johan Brenner emphasizes the need to set clear objectives for the meeting by focusing on 2-3 key discussion points. Comprehensive preparation, including pre-read materials shared in advance, is crucial for fruitful discussions and decision-making 2.
  3. Strategic Discussion Focus:

    • Marco Zappacosta suggests breaking board meetings into three parts: administrative tasks, business updates, and strategic discussions involving one or two key decisions. Reflecting on goals and learning from past performance is vital 3.

      Structuring Board Meetings

      Sid Sijbrandij shares insights on how Gitlab structures their board meetings, including an open session followed by a closed session, evaluating the CEO's performance, and providing context to the board beforehand.


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  4. Involving the Team:

    • Christian Hecker details involving the wider executive team in board meetings to provide deeper insights on specific areas such as finance, product, and operations. Meetings start with a founder-only section for honest discussions, followed by team presentations and then re-evaluation with the board 2.
  5. Building Relationships Outside Meetings:

    • Emmanuel Schalit stresses the importance of investing time with board members outside formal meetings to build stronger relationships and have more impactful discussions. Sending board materials well in advance and focusing on strategic topics during meetings is key 4.
  6. Meeting Stages and Design:

    • Shishir Mehrotra of Coda advocates for designing meetings with specific stages: wallow (idea generation), frame (question setting), propose (decision making), and close (commitment). Being clear about the meeting's stage ensures focused discussions and effective outcomes 5.
  7. Efficient Meeting Strategies:

    • Joseph McCormack emphasizes the importance of concise communication and having specific objectives for meetings to avoid wasting time. Meetings should focus on discussion and decision-making rather than information dissemination, which can be handled through other channels like email or slack 6.

Implementing these structured approaches can enhance the productivity and effectiveness of board meetings, ensuring clear objectives are met and strategic decisions are made efficiently.