Your board of directors or advisory board will ask you about strategy, finances, risks and other governance issues. Be prepared to give them robust answers.
The role of your board is to hold management to account.
Facing them in the boardroom can be both daunting and invigorating.
Take board meetings as an opportunity to take a bird’s eye view of your business, and to deeply engage with experts who understand your business and want it to succeed.
While the agenda will vary, your board members will want to address a healthy mix of topics related to your:
The board papers, which you’ll need to put together before each meeting, will probably touch on each of these matters.
Board meeting practice guide (external link) — Institute of Directors
Distribute the papers to each member at least one week in advance of the meeting.
The role of your board is to develop and nurture long-term strategies. In your meetings, expect to spend a fair deal of time on how you are working to achieve growth, while remaining true to your mission and values. This might mean developing a corporate and strategic plan with your board, and continuously measuring your progress against it.
Having a thorough understanding of your competitive landscape can help you achieve strategic goals, grow financially and avoid risks. So your board members will want to know that you understand your industry, customers and competitors. Provide them with detailed and up-to-date SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and PEST (political, economic, social and technological) analyses. Have data to hand that backs up the information you provide.
Showing your board the numbers isn’t enough. They’ll want the story behind them. If you’ve experienced any dips or peaks in revenue, be ready to put some context around why they occurred.
If your business relies on assets, your board will want to understand where your main assets are in their lifecycle, and whether you might need to invest in new ones in the future.
A positive culture and staff engagement levels are vital to the overall health of a business. Your board will want assurance that the right people are working in the right roles.
Supporting good leadership is also one of the board’s major roles. Expect to discuss how you and the top players on your team are performing, and what you need from your board to develop your capabilities.
Your board will want to help you avoid any risks that could put the business in jeopardy. They will scrutinise any potential risks and liabilities, and want assurance they are being managed effectively — or that you’ll get the support you need to reduce them.
Compliance is also a major concern. Expect to be probed on activities related to current developments and law changes, eg health and safety and cybersecurity.
Your board will also want to know you have an apt replacement if you ever need to step down unexpectedly.
A good governance team also turns their questions inward. They’ll ask each other how they can work most effectively with each other for the business. Expect them to ask you how they are performing and what skills or knowledge you need from them in order to succeed.