What is a board meeting? And why does it affect me?

Board meetings help shape the future and direction of companies. Learn exactly what they are, how they work, and the impact it has on your organization.



Craft Author: Tom Norman
Tom Norman

What is a board meeting?

Board meetings are essential gatherings that shape the direction and future of an organization. These meetings might seem esoteric from the outside, but they are vital to the functioning of a company at the highest level. Even if you don't find yourself seated at one, understanding their nature, mechanics, and the profound impact they have on a company is invaluable. It provides a clearer sense of the bigger corporate picture and the driving forces behind major decisions.

What is the purpose of a board meeting?

At its core, a board meeting serves as the strategic epicenter of an organization. It's where the company's most influential stakeholders gather to steer the ship, so to speak. Understanding the broad purposes these meetings serve can shed light on their critical importance:

1. Strategic Direction: 

One of the primary reasons for a board meeting is to define and refine the company's direction. This includes setting long-term goals, vision, and overarching strategies. It's where the big picture is painted and where future paths are charted.

2. Performance Review: 

Board meetings frequently involve assessing the company's performance against set benchmarks. This not only includes financial metrics but also operational achievements, growth trajectories, and even the performance of senior management. Through these reviews, adjustments can be made to keep the organization on track.

3. Compliance and Risk Management: 

In today's intricate business landscape, adhering to regulatory standards and managing risks is paramount. Board meetings serve as a forum to ensure the company remains compliant with laws and industry regulations. Additionally, potential risks—be they financial, operational, or reputational—are discussed and mitigation strategies are formulated.

4. Stakeholder Communication: 

These meetings also act as a conduit for communicating with key stakeholders, including shareholders. Important decisions that impact shareholders or require their approval are presented and discussed during board meetings.

5. Leadership and Management: 

Significant organizational changes, like the appointment or removal of C-level executives, often come under the purview of the board. Decisions related to leadership structure, succession planning, and other top-tier management issues are frequently addressed in these settings.

Roles in a board meeting

The board meeting features a number of roles, each contributing to its efficacy and overall success. Understanding these roles not only clarifies the structure of such meetings but also highlights the responsibilities each participant holds:

Board Chair or President

The board chair or president typically leads the meeting, sets the agenda, and ensures that the meeting stays focused on key issues. They have the responsibility of facilitating discussions and making sure that everyone's voice is heard.

CEO or Executive Director

In many organizations, the CEO or Executive Director plays a vital role in board meetings by providing essential updates on the company's performance and direction. They work closely with the board to implement strategic initiatives and align the organization's efforts with the board's goals.

Board Members

Board members are typically responsible for making major decisions affecting the organization, such as financial planning, governance policies, and strategic planning. They contribute their expertise and insights to guide the organization towards its goals.


The secretary plays a crucial role in ensuring that all board meetings are documented accurately. They are responsible for taking minutes, maintaining records, and ensuring that all legal and procedural requirements are met.

Committee Chairs

In many boards, there are specialized committees focused on various aspects of the organization's mission, such as finance, audit, or governance. Committee chairs lead these groups and often report back to the full board on the committee's work.

Legal Counsel

Sometimes, legal counsel attends board meetings to provide legal advice and ensure that the board's actions comply with relevant laws and regulations. Their input can be invaluable in navigating complex legal issues.

Stakeholders or Special Guests

Occasionally, stakeholders or special guests may be invited to board meetings. This can include major donors, community representatives, or subject matter experts. Their presence helps the board understand different perspectives and make informed decisions.

What is usually on a board meeting agenda?

The agenda for a board meeting serves as the roadmap, guiding participants through the topics of discussion and ensuring the meeting remains productive. Here's a breakdown of common items found on such an agenda:

1. Call to Order: This is the formal commencement of the meeting. Initiated by the chairperson, it sets the stage for what's to come, indicating the meeting's beginning and ensuring that all attendees are present and ready.

2. Approval of Previous Minutes: Before diving into new business, it's standard to review and approve the minutes from the last meeting. This ensures that all board members agree on the record of previous decisions and discussions, establishing a foundation of clarity.

3. Financial Report: An essential component, this section delves into the company's financial health. Detailed reports, often presented by a CFO or financial advisor, shed light on profits, losses, investments, and other crucial monetary matters.

4. Committee Reports: If the board has sub-committees—like those for audit, marketing, or HR—this is where their updates are presented. It ensures that the broader board remains informed of more granular, specialized activities.

5. Old Business: Topics or issues previously discussed but not resolved in past meetings find a place here. It's a way of ensuring continuity and following up on pending matters.

6. New Business: This is where fresh topics, challenges, or opportunities are introduced and discussed. From expansion plans to changes in regulations, anything new that affects the company can be brought up here.

7. Executive Session: Occasionally, boards need to discuss sensitive matters—maybe related to personnel, legal issues, or confidential strategies. This session is reserved for such discussions and is often limited to board members only.

8. Adjournment: The formal conclusion of the meeting, led by the chairperson, signifies the end of the agenda. It's a clear marker that all topics have been addressed and the board will reconvene at the next scheduled meeting.

Board meeting template

Use Craft's board meeting agenda template.


Board meetings are pivotal gatherings within an organization, providing direction and strategy at the highest level. They serve as platforms where key decision-makers convene to discuss and resolve matters crucial to the company's future. Through our exploration, we've seen the core purposes of these meetings, the roles of participants, standard agenda items, and tips to make them more effective. Understanding the dynamics of board meetings offers a clearer insight into the decision-making processes of companies, emphasizing their importance in shaping a company's trajectory. Whether or not you ever participate in one, knowing how they operate equips you with a broader perspective on corporate operations and strategy.

Other meeting templates