Creating a Board Meeting Agenda: Where to Start?

Discover everything you need to know to run productive board meetings – including how to structure them to get the most results

November 28, 2022
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Unproductive board meetings waste the time of your organization’s most valuable members.

Luckily, a well-thought-out agenda can help keep things on track and make sure you touch on all the most important topics.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to run productive board meetings – including exactly how to structure each meeting to get the most from them (and tick all the legal boxes). 

Who sets the agenda for a board meeting?

Traditionally, the company secretary is in charge of setting the agenda for board meetings. They’ll ask board members for issues they’d like to be included in the next board meeting and then create an agenda around those items. This also doubles up as a handy reminder for board members to prepare anything on their end they need to bring before the board.

Try Assembly to make creating agendas for your board meetings as simple as possible for your company secretary.

When to send the board meeting agenda 

Sending the agenda for each meeting to the members of the board in advance will help ensure you’re reaping the biggest benefits of an effective meeting agenda

So, your company secretary should be sure to send it early enough that members have time to familiarize themselves with the talking points, think of questions and discussion points, and prepare any sections they’re being asked to cover.

You should also send all the relevant reports and documents your board needs to review before the meeting alongside the agenda. Encourage everyone to read through these in advance so you can dedicate the meeting to the discussion.

It’s also well worth setting an overarching goal or theme for every board meeting and sending this across alongside the agenda and any documents. Setting this in advance will help keep the meeting on track rather than risking attention being drawn away from the most important points you need to discuss.

How to structure a board meeting agenda

Setting an effective board meeting agenda isn’t just about making sure the meeting is as productive as possible. It’s also an important step in making sure your board fulfills all its legal duties.

Here’s how to structure of your board meetings to make sure you touch on all the important points and tick all the legal boxes:

Call to order

Every board meeting should start with a formal call to order in which the chairperson welcomes everyone to the meeting. They should also note the date, time, and location of the meeting for the secretary to record in the meeting’s minutes.

The chairperson might also want to lay out your company’s vision statement to remind the board of their long-term goals and the purpose of that particular meeting to help keep it on track.

Book a demo of Assembly to empower your people with all the tools they need to run productive meetings.

Changes to the agenda

Before you get into the meeting properly, the chairperson should ask if anyone would like to request a change to the agenda. This will help make sure the meeting runs smoothly, even if something’s come up last minute.

The agenda should then be changed if needed before you move on to an important legal responsibility.

Approving the previous meeting’s minutes

Your company secretary needs to send a copy of each board meeting’s minutes to every board member. Your board is then legally required to check these minutes to make sure they accurately reflect what was covered in that meeting.

So, you need to make sure approving the previous meeting’s minutes is near the top of the agenda for each board meeting. This gives members a chance to flag any corrections or changes they’d like making to the last meetings’ minutes and then sign them off, making them legally binding. 


Next up, it’s time for various board members to give updates on their areas of focus. This is the most flexible section of a board meeting, so be sure to structure these updates however it makes most sense for your company.

Generally, you’ll want to kick this section off with an update from your Executive Director on the general state of the company. They should share top-level business updates alongside your business’s recent successes and some potential opportunities.

You’ll usually want to follow this up with a report from your Finance Director that details potential financial threats facing the company and opportunities open to it. This gives important context for discussing new goals and ideas. 

Once your Executive and Finance Directors have set the scene of the overall state of the business, committee chairs might take the lead on any other reports that need to be shared. It’s a good idea to keep this section flexible and share whatever is most pertinent to your business at each meeting.

Old business

After the reports, it's time to return to any items that were left unresolved and conversations that were left unfinished during the last board meeting. It’s also the time to hold any votes you hit pause on last time. You might choose to table some of these issues or pass them on to a relevant committee to discuss them further.

New business

Now it’s time to look ahead. Set plenty of time aside for this section in your agenda, as it’s where your board debates and discusses how to best move forward in bringing its vision for the company to life. You’ll want to hold votes on how people would like to move forward with some items, table others for further discussion, and send some to a committee. 

Comments and announcements

At this point in the meeting, you should open the floor up to your board members to make announcements, offer congratulations or condolences, suggest agenda items for the next meeting, or bring up anything else they think is worth bringing up.


Once you’ve covered all the items on your agenda, the board chair will formally bring the meeting to a close. They should note the time they’re wrapping things up so the secretary can record it in the meeting’s minutes. Finally, they should tell everyone when the next board meeting is going to be so they can put it in their diaries. 

Tips for creating a good board meeting agenda

Now you know how a board meeting agenda should be structured, here are some tips for making each one go as smoothly as possible:

Don’t get bogged down in details

If you spend too long in the weeds during your board meetings you’re bound to get no further on the important points. So, stick to high-level discussions during the meeting – especially during the reports – and save details for the documents you distribute ahead of time. Avoiding long presentations will help encourage productive discussions.

Pick topics that affect everyone

You should think twice about adding a topic to your meeting agenda unless it’s relevant to the majority of your board members. You can call committees to discuss topics that only affect certain members of the board rather than waste precious time in your board meetings on things that don’t affect everyone.

Book a demo of Assembly to see how seamlessly it can streamline meetings across your organization.

Assign someone to keep track of the time

There‘s a lot to cover in a typical board meeting. It’s therefore a good idea to assign a “timekeeper” to keep you on track of your agenda and flag when you’re spending too long on a section. This will help make sure you get to everything before time runs out – and nip tangents in the bud before they derail your agenda.

Wrapping up

Follow the structure and stick to the tips we’ve laid out here to make sure every one of your board meetings is a valuable use of your board’s time.

You can use Assembly to streamline more than just your board meetings. Learn how to set up Assembly’s daily agenda in five easy steps by following our daily/weekly agenda template.

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What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

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