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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin

๐—•๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜€ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—™๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

No matter how high you reach, there's the fear of falling down.

For many founders, board meetings are a huge source of anxiety. Even if everything is going well with your startup, you may feel the combination of eustress (positive stress), distress (from the challenges you face), and the desire to keep growing. All those influences may be personified by the board members who you perceive will help you celebrate the wins, pass the obstacles, and reach your goals. That makes board meetings seem daunting.

Face the fear and prepare to get the most from your time together.

๐—ž๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—”๐˜‚๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ

Understand investors on a deeper level, such as how they see the company growing and what obstacles they anticipate. Every investor can help somehow (besides funding). Some know key hires or strong vendors, others can introduce potential clients.

Ask what they want to learn and cover in board meetings and what situations warrant an impromptu discussion between meetings.

Iโ€™ve known many investors who only give positive feedback. Like eating chocolate, that's great once but unhealthy as a diet. Push for critical feedback to develop as a leader and to form a long-term relationship.

๐๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Œ๐ž๐ž๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ 

๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ โ€“ Here are a number of tips on the presentation:

  • Avoid the temptation to give too much information

  • Cover accomplishments, major projects, and plans for each team

  • Highlight the facts useful for strategic discussions

  • Label the parts which will not be covered in the meeting

  • Link to sources (collateral, demo videos, reports) for more detail

  • Use the same template formatting for each meeting

  • Include some information from prior decks for context

  • Incorporate visuals such as pictures, charts, and diagrams

๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ฆ โ€“ Create an agenda for your time together and emphasize what will be the key areas of discussion.

๐˜š๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ โ€“ Find a place where everyone will be comfortable for a few hours. Provide light snacks and drinks.

๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ โ€“ Check with attendees to determine which KPIs will be useful to share. Balance consistent metrics with some new details.

๐‘ต๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’”๐’†

If there is an urgent problem, donโ€™t wait for the board meeting. Reach out to investors and get their perspective beforehand and ask for advice on how to facilitate the conversation in the meeting.

๐˜š๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜š๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ โ€“ Whenever you suggest expectations and guidelines, it helps focus the meeting. For instance, you may want a productive discussion on a sensitive topic and ask everyone to silence their devices for that period. Opening with a little humor or following a break with a fun exercise encourages people leads to a more productive meeting.

๐—œ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด

๐˜Œ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ด. Wrestle with big issues. One suggested format:

  • Accomplishments and Challenges

  • Performance and KPIs (team leaders may facilitate)

  • Strategic Topic 1 (then break)

  • Strategic Topic 2

  • Board Decisions (e.g. granting options and comp changes)

๐˜‰๐˜ฆ ๐˜‹๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜Š๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ. For major topics, provide context, facts, impact, learning, and cover the next steps.

๐˜—๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ. Give a context for financials and other reports. Rely on comparisons to show progress, internal (e.g. quarter-to-quarter) or external (e.g. industry & competitive metrics).

๐˜—๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด. Treat attendees as equally responsible and collaborating towards the best solutions. With decisions, encourage investors to give options, not decisions, e.g. asking โ€œHow have you seen other founders handle this issue?โ€ Designate next steps if useful (e.g. the investor will introduce you to an expert in the area discussed).

โ€œHow have you seen other founders handle this issue?โ€

๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ต. Encourage opinions and realize that occasionally differences arise. In those cases, build a framework for discussion. Look at the key criteria for making any decision, identify how they align with business, and then weigh options along those criteria. Investors may have other experiences with seemingly similar problems, so this breakdown may help explain the distinctions.

๐˜Ž๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜š๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ด. Introduce team leaders to present around performance and KPIs. This gives both sides better exposure and perspectives.

๐˜•๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ ๐˜๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ด. Experiment each meeting with a brand-new concept (e.g. demo a new product feature) to keep the meetings compelling.

๐—”๐—ณ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด

๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ. Right after the meeting, take 5 minutes to write notes on the presentation around delivery and ways to improve next time.

๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜–๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ž๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด. Acknowledge attendees who really contributed to the meeting whether in a public email or private message.

๐˜๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ. Ask for three aspects of the presentation they appreciated and three ways it can be better.

๐˜œ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ฑ๐˜ง๐˜ถ๐˜ญ ๐˜‰๐˜ฐ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ ๐˜”๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ. Address carefully but directly. If needed, ask other board members for advice and possibly to intervene.

๐˜š๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜›๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ. Repurpose the board deck and key observations to let the team know where things stand. Sharing the deck afterwards helps the team make better decisions. Also, they will know what to give you for future meetings.

Every founder and board is different and the interactions between you will evolve. These ideas should keep your interactions productive and engaging.


Photo by Tim Trad who can be found here:

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