14 June 2009

Meeting preparation...

I have an upcoming Board meeting and want to be prepared for everything that is needed to make it run smoothly.

To-do lists

I have to-do lists for the Board and Committee meetings and a to-do list for the Board Reception and Dinner. You can never go wrong if you are making a list and checking it twice.

My favourite to-do list is a calendar timeline so I can see at a glance where I am at and what I need to do to get there. It is simply using an on-line calendar with space on each day to enter what needs to be done. I fill it out from start to finish and each day check what needs to be done and where I am at. I feel confident as I check off each item that things will be done on time. No surprises!

To generate a calendar in Word 2007, click on the Office Button (in the top left-hand corner). Choose New. Under Office Microsoft Online, click on Calendars. You will be given a choice of many styles and types of calendars. My favourite is the basic design, with large squares to fill in my to-dos. I customize it and remove the weekend days to give me more space.

I also have a checklist that I go through to make sure we have everything we are going to need on the day of the meeting. Some things I have on this list is a memory stick with the minute templates, tentcards, meals ordered, meeting packages, pen, notebook, highlighter, calculator (I hate math so just in case they ask something that requires mathematical skills) and attendance records to establish quorum for each meeting.

Minute Template
I take my minutes on a laptop so prepare a minute template ahead of time. Then it is a simple matter of filling in the blanks on the day of the meeting. This does increase the preparation time, but on the day of the meeting it goes very smoothly with no stress.

To prepare a minute template simply use your agenda and put it in minute format. Under each agenda heading you can then record the appropriate information when you are in the meeting. To finalize your minutes, you will just need to tidy up the language and formatting for the Chair's approval.

Are you plugged in?
Once I plugged my laptop in and thought I had power, but the plug-in was not working. My battery power died half way through the meeting. I had a notepad and pen with me so continued the minutes by hand, but it was a lesson learned to check in the bottom right hand corner of my computer to see if I actually have power. If it is plugged in, it will show a battery with a plug symbol. If it is only operating on battery power, it will just show a battery. Good thing to check before the meeting begins.

Meeting Materials
To make it easier for the Chair and board members on the day of the meeting I set up the meeting materials in a binder in as user friendly a way as possible. I use the meeting agenda as an index with each item as a tab number.

1 Approval of Agenda
2 Approval of Minutes
3 Business Arising
4 Committee Reports
5 Chief Executive Officer’s Report
6 Board Correspondence
7 Next Meeting
(Be sure to include a calendar in the meeting binder
for yourself and the board members)

When a motion is required, I include the language of the motion for the board members at the appropriate tab:

To approve the agenda of June 15th as presented.
Moved: Seconded:

The motion language is also included in my meeting template at the appropriate spot so all I need to do when we come to the motion is fill in the names of who brought the motion forward and seconded it.

The members of the board have always been appreciative of the simplicity of the meeting binder which leaves them free to make the important decisions and get on with the business of the meeting.

All done?
I enjoy the preparation leading up to the meeting. It is a lot of work, with the highlight being when the meeting runs smoothly and minutes are completed and sent to the Board members.

Whew! Now I am free to ... prepare for the next meeting! (It is a never ending circle isn't it?)

However, you can be sure I will use my previous templates and checklists and just change the date to the next meeting date.


Foley-In-Charge said...

Great blog, Patricia. I do know that lists have been my mainstay -- and have helped me keep my sanity.

There is also a really fun To-Do list gadget on google if that works for some.

Minutes are tricky. Every Board or Director has their own preference...even if there is a true protocol that minute takers KNOW we are supposed to follow.

Erica said...

This is a great post. I was wondering what type of experience or training does one need to aquire to support a Board of Directors? I see many job postings for this and noticed that this is one of the key functions of an EA. How does one break into this field?

Thanks in advance!

Patricia Robb said...

In my case an opportunity came up and at first I was hesitant as I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I took the plunge and it is something I am really suited to do.

Experience helps as you really need to know your stuff.

I have been learning on the job as far as minute taking goes, but I love writing so it is something I really enjoy doing.

There are courses on minute taking and Board governance, but also you can learn alot by reading books and asking others who are in this field.

It is interesting work.