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"The board package just arrived. And it looks BIG."

prepare for meetings Oct 20, 2019

You’ve heard the old saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Busy people who get things done – not people who make themselves busy working on their procrastination habits. (Been there!)

Busy, productive people have a way to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Don’t be surprised if you happen to notice those same skills in the savvy directors on your board. Not to worry … you are not be that far from being there too.

Today’s blog post is all about what to do when the board package arrives ahead of the upcoming meeting. Ideally, it would arrive at least a week in advance, giving you plenty of time to review it. But don’t count on it. Life happens. The board itself is ultimately accountable for the quality of the information it receives, but responsibility for putting the package together rests with management.

And management takes its direction from the board. If you, as a board director, are not receiving the information required to make an effective contribution to the meeting’s decision process, you have every right to ask for what’s needed. Chances are, others on the board will thank you for it. Consider bringing up this topic at an in-camera discussion. If it is the will of the board, the chair can take it forward to management.


What savvy directors do

I’m grateful that, from time to time, this blog gives me the opportunity to share some research I’ve done with savvy directors I know. I’ll continue to research relevant topics and share the latest information with you, our director community.

In this case, I simply asked experienced directors how they approach and prepare for a board meeting. It’s clear from their answers that there is no one correct method. The best system is the one that works for you.

As you refine your approach, here are some great tips from the pros on how to get through the board package to focus on the important things (not necessarily the noisy items).

  • Read the material. Sounds obvious, but often missed.
  • Just read, you will know what to focus on. You will know what’s important when you read the board package – big opportunities, or problems, or major steps.
  • Recognize housekeeping vs. strategic items.
  • Keep a list of questions. Look for your entry point.
  • Remember the things that are important to you – the points you want to make.
    You learn a lot just learning about it. Stay awake.
  • You already know more than you think – more than typical directors.
  • Spend less time on the stuff that is day-to-day.
  • Identify the major issues in the materials
  • You can ask for some other information – if there’s a proposal, is it feasible?
  • Ask yourself the questions that you don’t know so you will be more comfortable making the decisions.


The PREP Framework

I find that simple frameworks help create a rhythm or discipline that you can build on. In this case, we created a framework for board meeting preparation. We call it the PREP Framework™. It looks like this:

  • Preview the material
  • Read in detail
  • Establish some questions
  • Pick your priorities

You can do this! Next time the board package arrives, follow the PREP Framework™ to prepare for your upcoming board meeting, and be ready to collaborate, contribute and influence decisions.


Your takeaway:

  • Follow the PREP Framework™ for a simple and effective four-step process to prepare for board meetings.
  • Work to find a mentor to support your personal development efforts for board work.

Thank you,


Scott Baldwin is a certified corporate director (ICD.D) and co-founder of – an online hub with hundreds of guideline questions and resources to help prepare for your next board meeting.


Share Your Insight:  What obstacles do you encounter when preparing for a board meeting?



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