The Secret to a Great Board Meeting: A CEO Follow-up Email
Glad to be out of that board meeting? Whoops, you’re not quite done yet. Board meeting follow-up is a critical next step. The best CEOs follow up quickly afterward with an email within the first few days after each board meeting, sent to all board members, and occasionally, depending on the sensitivity, to your CFO or other senior leaders.
What’s the recipe for a great board meeting follow-up email?
It’s simple: write something that shows the board 1) what you heard from them in terms of key messages or decisions, and 2) what specific actions you or anyone else in the company will do as a result of a recommendation or a request in the meeting.
Why does your follow-up email matter?
Because particularly in a busy board meeting, all of us can lose track of what we suggested or asked for, and 90 days later at the next board meeting, we’ll be struggling to recall. And it never looks good if the management has forgotten, or appeared to ignore, something specific that we asked for in terms of information, or change in practice, or whatever.
When should the follow-up go out?
The CEO’s board meeting follow-up should go out right away. Because if your characterization of the big messages or committed actions doesn’t line up with other attendee’s recollections, that will come out sooner rather than later. And you’ll be beautifully teed up for the next meeting.
Example board meeting follow-up email:
To: Company BOD
Subject: Advice and action summary, BOD meeting MM-DD-YY
Thanks for your time and energy at last week’s board meeting. I wanted to provide a summary from my perspective.
First, here are the key messages I heard and will move forward on as discussed:
- Bridge funding is approved while equity raise conversations continue
- Hiring plan is approved, we should keep you posted on how our actual results will track to our goals in adding headcount
- Stay focused on agreed-on near-term sales prospects
- Postpone the new product concept we discussed until X happens
Second, here are some things you suggested that we will have to think further about. I will come back to you later on any outcomes:
- Consider a sales role specifically to acquire and support partnerships
- Consider securing a line of credit
- Think about how our messaging for some prospects could be sharpened
Finally, here are our action commitments — please let me know if I overlooked something:
- Add an overview of the opportunities for new partnerships to next BOD deck
- Add a structured update on the XYZ relationship, including their actual forecast, actual sales, recent actions for them, new needs, next steps, etc.
- Change some terms in the financial and sales reporting to better match convention
- Present forecasts with key headwinds (downside), and tailwinds (upside) identified and estimated, so that the BOD can see how we are setting a balanced course between these unknowns
- Keep the BOD informed on actual experience around payment for current clients, as we learn more about how to forecast payments
- Show the degree of magnitude in revenue dollars on each of the key application slides
Thanks again – our next board meeting is MM/DD/YY, but I’ll have updates to you before then on key investor and customer matters, along with a proposed agenda for discussion after we present results.
NOTE: DON’T RECAP DETAILS OF DISCUSSIONS THAT YOU DON’T WANT ON THE RECORD.
That’s it. A good CEO does this type of follow-up after every board meeting, getting it out sooner rather than later.
A few other board meeting related points:
- I am not suggesting that you necessarily have to do everything the board says. This kind of communications lets us as board members know our input was heard and clarifies what you intend to do with the advice or decisions we offered.
- You don’t want to expose anything confidential that would be a problem down the road in due diligence by a potential acquirer or new investor. Keep investor details, finance pricing, anything else sensitive, out of the email. Notice I didn’t name anyone, for instance.
- It’s hard to capture all this detail when you are running the meeting, too. Ask your CFO to capture any director advice or requests, and sit down immediately after the meeting to compare notes, so you have a partner to your recall before sending out the note.
What have we missed?
What else would you recommend as a board meeting follow-up? Share with us in your comments below. The Underscore Board Core is always keen to learn and share best practices for all our Core members.
Emily Green is a seasoned Independent Board Director, a Moltin Core Partner and an active member of the Underscore Core, involved in many of our Board Core Dinners. We thank Emily for her periodic blog posts on board matters for the larger Core community. What other board topics would you like to hear more about?