Of all of the aspects of your organisation’s board meetings that we can assist with as part of our meeting management service, one of the most important is the preparation and agreement of the agenda.

The setting of an agenda for your firm’s meetings may seem relatively straightforward – after all, you may already have a good, established routine, involving a standard agenda structure that you carry forward and check with the chairman and CEO to ensure that they are happy ahead of the meeting. Such a structure may have worked well for you for years, with the headings seemingly fairly obvious, so you may struggle to justify a change in how your agendas are set. Indeed, not all such routines actually require change.

However, we also encounter various situations in our work with boards where the agenda is not leading the discussion in the way it should. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a top-to-bottom overhaul in how your organisation sets its agendas, with just a few tweaks sometimes making a significant difference. Nonetheless, there are certain agenda preparation and agreement practices that organisations are often well-advised to adopt, as well as some that it would be a good idea to avoid.

It is recommended that you take a rigorous approach to your agenda structure, asking whether it assists you in focussing on the main strategic issues. For at least some, if not all meetings, the first part of the agenda – when everyone is fresh and there is the least time pressure – should be reserved for the “big themes”. While it is common for many meetings to concentrate on recent executive reports, this does not need to be the first item on the agenda on every occasion, and in any case, much of what these papers contain should usually be taken as read.

If you intend to start your meetings with a ‘CEO report’ item, you should ensure that this sets the scene for discussion about what the board most urgently needs to devote its time and attention to. At a lot of meetings, the CEO’s verbal report mainly concerns events since the last board meeting, information that should instead be in the pre-read. You should also ask whether a structure based on the format of ‘CEO report followed by CFO report’ really sets up the meeting properly, in addition to putting the formalities at the end of the meeting to ensure they aren’t inadvertently given more time than they merit.

There is much more that can be said about how to set the most appropriate and effective agendas for your organisation’s meetings. If you would like to discuss your own requirements in greater detail, you are welcome to call London Registrars today about our meeting management service that has already proved so invaluable for a wide range of organisations.