Board meeting preparation checklist: what you need | Aprio
How to make board meetings more efficient

Board meeting preparation checklist

It’s no secret – planning and running productive board meetings takes a lot of time. And while board meeting preparation can amount to weeks of hard work, the effort is critical to ensure that directors are well prepared and board meetings are productive.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the best practices of board meeting prep, and we’ll also share a board meeting preparation checklist that you can use as a guide.

You can also skip ahead to these sections:

How do you prepare for a board meeting?

While there’s no secret playbook that will equip every board administrator and governance specialist to plan and run the best board meetings, there are guidelines that you can follow. These include:

  1. Make sure you start the planning process well in advance of the board meeting to give enough time to prepare. It can be helpful to start preparations for the next meeting as soon as the last one finishes, starting with asking what went well and what didn’t? Map out a pre-meeting schedule and prioritize your tasks, allocating the appropriate amount of time for each. Use a meeting checklist (like the one below) to avoid having to scramble to finalize details at the last minute. Don’t be afraid to block off time in your calendar! 
  2. Collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure that all necessary topics are included in the board meeting agenda and that all relevant materials are sent out to directors in advance. You’re not in this process alone, so make sure to book time in advance with the board chair and CEO to ensure that you don’t miss any relevant information.
  3. Use technology, like board portal software, to save hours of effort on board meeting prep tasks, such as mapping out meeting calendars, creating an agenda and compiling board meeting packages. 

Before the board meeting – checklist for meeting preparation

Preparing for a board meeting can easily feel overwhelming. Use the checklist for meeting preparation below to guide you through the process.

Step 1: send notice & determine meeting requirements 

You may have already sent out the meeting schedule for all board meetings at the beginning of the year. If not, send notice of the upcoming meeting, and, if you’re required to give public notice, post the notice as required by your bylaws. With the notice, send out the meeting invite and watch the RSVPs start to trickle in.

Next up: determine the meeting requirements. Get input from the executive and board chair on meeting goals and key topics for the upcoming meeting. Review the minutes from the last board meeting, pay close attention to follow-up tasks, and consider what needs to be included in the upcoming meeting preliminary agenda.

board meeting preparation checklist

Step 2: develop the agenda

Build out a preliminary agenda draft. Make sure it includes the meeting location, or if the meeting is virtual or hybrid, plus date and time. Consider the purpose of the meeting, the anticipated attendance, the division of items, the expected time to spend on each item, strategies for encouraging discussion, and note any in camera sessions.

Once you’ve completed a draft of the board agenda, send it first to the board chair, CEO or executive, and/or executive director for review. Often new items will arise at this step and you’ll need to practically consider time allotted to each item in the schedule and choose what to include or postpone.

Step 3: confirm attendance & arrange travel plans or easy online meeting access

By this point, RSVPs should mostly be in. Contact any directors and presenters who have not yet confirmed their attendance and see if they are planning to attend. If you have remote board members planning on attending, set up a way for them to join, whether that be by phone or video. 

If needed, check the availability of your meeting space and book it, build out a transportation schedule and book hotel rooms. Once you’ve confirmed the number of people attending, book catering and any other extra services needed for the meeting such as any audio or visual equipment is required, such as like computers, screens, projectors, or audio equipment. Flip charts, easels, and whiteboards can be handy too, and having extra pens and paper on the table is a good idea.

Step 4: finalize the agenda

Finalize the agenda, incorporating any feedback and making necessary adjustments. Contact the directors and committee chairs that will be required to submit reports or other supporting documents and provide a deadline and follow up as necessary.

Before distributing the final agenda to all board members, review it with the board chair or executive director. This step ensures they are aligned with the agenda and can effectively lead the meeting.

See related: The ultimate guide to effective board meeting agendas

Step 5: prepare & distribute board meeting materials

Assemble all board meeting materials, including the finalized agenda, financial and/or management reports, committee reports, prior meeting minutes, and any other relevant information. Send out the board materials in advance as according to your bylaws, typically one to two weeks before the board meeting.

If you’re using board management software, assembling and distributing board materials electronically can greatly simplify the traditional courier or delivery process of binders and ensure the board of directors gets access to board materials at the same time.

Step 6: prepare minutes template

Prepare a minutes template prior to the meeting that includes the meeting date, time, and location. Add sections for the major items of the agenda and leave room for note-taking.

Save time preparing your board meeting minutes template with Aprio’s board meeting minute software. Pre-populate items to your meeting minute template such as the list of attendees, meeting date and location, and agenda items.

See related: Board meeting minutes: How to take minutes at a board meeting

Step 7: final preparations

If any directors have not submitted their reports, follow up with them and determine a method to distribute those materials to all attendees.

If not meeting completely virtually, check the conference room the day before the meeting and ensure that all required supplies and seating requirements are met. Make sure that catering arrangements are finalized and that the meeting attendees are aware of how to access the space. Pack up your laptop and charger, and any other materials you need to bring, and get a good night’s rest. Good luck!

Board meeting preparation checklist

After the board meeting checklist

There are still a few items left to take care of before you have a well-deserved break. Here’s a starting point:

Step 1: remove meeting notices

After the meeting, remove any public meeting notices. These may be replaced with the date, time, and location of the next meeting, if that’s already been decided. If you had to rent or borrow any meeting room supplies, ensure that they are returned. 

Step 2: correct & finalize minutes

If there were any changes to the previous meeting’s minutes approved by the board, make those revisions, and have them signed and dated by the board chair. Then, start to draft the current meeting’s minutes while the meeting is still fresh in your mind, and distribute them. Create a clear process for directors to review and edit the minutes.

In the minutes or in another document that is distributed to all board members, make sure to list assigned tasks and the completion dates for each. 

Step 3: track feedback & expenses

To prevent frustration from building up, use an online survey in your board portal to poll your members for feedback after each meeting. Doing this will help you get a continuous pulse on how board members are feeling and prevent unsaid frustration from festering and eventually boiling over. It can also help you improve the structure of future board meetings.

If directors incurred any travel expenses to attend the board meeting, have them submit their expenses so that they can be tracked. 

Board meeting preparation checklist

Step 4: debrief with the leadership team

Within a week after each board meeting, meet with the chair and CEO for a debrief. Discuss what went right, what went wrong, what you learned, and what lessons you can carry with you into the next board meeting. You can also discuss the feedback you received from directors in your survey.

If there are outstanding action items, you can also discuss who is accountable for them and how progress will be tracked. 

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How a board portal can help with board meeting preparation

Using a board meeting preparation checklist can definitely help you stay on track while working through the planning process, but don’t overlook the value of purpose-built board management software for preparing and running productive meetings.

Switching to board portal software like Aprio can save you valuable time preparing for a board meeting. Here’s how:

All board information safe in one place

No more worrying about links and files getting lost in an endless email swirl. Aprio acts as a one-stop shop for all board communication, making it for anyone – directors and or administrators – to find files, review past meeting materials or reference material such as policies, procedures, business plans, and budgets in one accessible place.

Save hours in meeting prep

Use Aprio to send meeting invites, build agendas and meeting minutes, assign tasks, poll directors to determine best-fit meeting dates, and track director expenses, all in one secure place.

Easy electronic distribution of board materials and updates

Once board materials are prepared and ready to send out to the board, notifying directors is as simple as sending an email through Aprio. As long as board members have a computer or tablet, they can log in to Aprio and access the material anytime. And if a document needs updating, you can simply remove the previous document and upload the new file in its place.

Board member tools for fast meeting prep & expenses

See agenda and board materials the moment they are available, annotate documents to be prepared for meetings, research relevant related information in the self-serve easy-to-search library. Arrive at the meeting relaxed and ready. Aprio also simplifies expense reporting and reimbursement processes for board members as part of the several board reports we offer.

Board materials stay protected with industry-leading security

Aprio conforms to the highest security standards in the industry to keep your board information safe and protected. Aprio offers a range of advanced security features to keep your board information safe and secure – even in cases of lost or stolen devices. We help you control user access, protect against unauthorized use, and monitor director activity to stay on top of all cyber-security threats.

“Aprio is the portal I recommend for every Board. In my role as Board Secretary, I have been using Aprio on a daily basis for six years for four different Boards and many committees. There are many aspects of the software I appreciate but, in particular, the ability to create a board package from beginning to end in a few minutes is the greatest gift to my very busy and time-sensitive schedule. I love the agenda generator and the ability to create skeleton minutes in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take.” – Aprio customer review on

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Save hours in board meeting preparation with Aprio

Backed by unmatched expert service and an easy-to-use secure board portal, discover why more boards chose Aprio. We top the charts for positive customer reviews by providing advanced security, complete features, and standout time savings tools like our automated agenda builder, meeting minute builder and comprehensive reports!

Are you ready to save yourself hours of time and improve your meeting prep process? Our team is happy to help assess if Aprio is the right fit for you – talk to us about your needs.

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