One of my roles within our association management company is to prepare for and attend our client board meetings. I regularly prepare for three board meetings and one committee meeting and often two meetings fall within the same week. That schedule can be overwhelming, but if everything is well- prepared in advance, all runs smoothly.
Ideally, preparation for a board meeting should commence three weeks prior to the meeting. I would like to share with you the tasks that need to be carried out before the meeting, day of the meeting and after the meeting.
Key Documents for Association Board Meetings
Before we get into the timeline of preparing for a board meeting, there are four key documents that first need to be introduced: agenda, previous meeting minutes, action item list, and financial report. When possible, send all attachments together with the agenda. Committee meetings might not include financial reports.
- The agenda contains the list of items that will be discussed during the meeting along with who is responsible for each item. The top of each agenda should contain the time, date and location of the meeting along with the names of those that have indicated they will be attending, as well as the names of those that have sent their regrets. Conversely, the bottom of each agenda should list the time, date and location of the next meeting.
- Minutes from the previous meeting are required as they are approved by the board at the beginning of every meeting. They are generally not read during meetings, as they are distributed and reviewed by the board prior to every meeting.
- The action item list is a compilation of tasks assigned to members who have agreed to complete them. Due dates are provided to each action item to ensure timely completion. This list is continuously being updated as tasks are removed upon completion.
- The financial reports are monthly or quarterly reports that indicate the associations current financial position. They are discussed by the board at every meeting. Now that the essential documents have been covered, let us get into the preparation of the meeting.
Three Weeks Before the Association Board Meeting
Board meeting preparation should begin three weeks prior to the scheduled date. It is at this time that the board chair is first contacted to discuss the meeting agenda. The chair will inform you, the person responsible for coordinating the meeting, of any new items that need to be discussed. With this information, the previous agenda can be used as a template to which new items are added and completed items are removed. This is now the draft agenda.
Two weeks before the meeting, the draft agenda is sent to the chair. Be sure to send an editable file to the chair as they may want to make minor changes. Once the agenda has been reviewed and approved, it can then be sent to the board or committee members, presented as a non-editable PDF version.
Also two weeks prior to the meeting, reports from volunteers or other stakeholders are requested. As mentioned above, these reports would include the financial report. The chief staff officer should review all attachments before they are sent with the agenda.
Five business days before the meeting, the agenda is resent along with all attachments to all board members. The attachments include the remaining key documents outlined above, as well as any documents pertaining to a specific item on the agenda. You will also find that, at this time, members may inform you that they are no longer able to attend the meeting. If this is the case, continue to send them relevant meeting emails and inform the board chair of their absence.
One business day before, a reminder is sent to notify all members of the upcoming meeting. This email should include all of the documents that were attached one week prior. Any additional information regarding the meeting such as food and beverage service, parking information, or directions can be provided at this time if there is a need to do so.
You are now ready for the day of the meeting.
On the Day of the Association Board Meeting
On the day of the meeting, print any documents that you will need to help you follow the meeting effectively, such as the agenda and action item list. Be prepared to do a lot of writing and listen attentively during the meeting to ensure minutes are being reported accurately and efficiently. It is better to write too much than not enough. In the minutes, make sure to include when the meeting was called to order and when it was adjourned, when individuals join or leave the meeting, and who made a motion or undertook an action. Remember that the primary purpose of taking minutes is to track what decisions were made and what actions are required as a result. You are not there to create a verbatim transcript of the entire meeting, or even entire discussions.
It is now time to wrap up the meeting.
Immediately Following the Association Board Meeting
Within one or two days of the association board meeting, create an action item list and share it, along with the minutes, with the chief staff officer for review. Use the action item list from the previous meeting to add the new actions that were presented at the meeting.
Prepare the draft minutes for the board chair to review and approve within five business days. This should be completed as soon as possible as you are responsible for having the minutes distributed to the board members. Quick release of the minutes also prevents any loss of memory when interpreting the notes you took during the meeting.
As soon as the chair has approved the minutes and action item list (generally two weeks after the meeting) send them to everyone with a reminder of when the next meeting is scheduled. This is the concluding task in the preparation timeline.
To close, having a structured timeline with reminders allows for seamless board meeting preparation. As you have noticed, board meetings are a continuous process that can extend over a five week period. Next thing you know, it is time to start preparing for the next one. Please find the table below summarizing the timeline outlined above.
|Three Weeks Before||Reach out to board chair to discuss the board agenda.|
|Two Weeks Before||Send draft agenda to board chair||Request any reports from volunteers or other stakeholders|
|One Day Before||Send a reminder of the meeting with required attachments|
|Day of Meeting||Print required documents for the meeting||Take minutes during the meeting.|
|One Week After||Send draft minutes for the board chair to review and approve|
|Two Weeks After||Send action item list and minutes to all members|