How to organize boardroom sessions?


I would love to learn more about setting up boardroom sessions for corporate leaders in a confidential environment. What are the succes criteria?

Board of Directors
Event Management
Strategic Thinking
Dudley Esajas
50 months ago

6 answers


I liked all the points mentioned, few other points i would like to add if that adds value to your meeting:

  • Book the meeting with vision (inspiration to move the organization forward)
  • Have some panels and sticky notes to facilitate the discussion so you guide them but make this as there meeting not yours.
  • If there is any controversial issue resolve by meeting with the team members before the meeting.
  • Create a stakeholder map, and look at which members need to be convinced or bring to normalization before the meeting
  • Your job is to listen and facilitate not to dominate the meeting
  • Be aware of emotions and be rational in your discuss, do not take it as personal but still lead with awareness and rational.
  • set the stage of what you want to accomplish before the meeting and state at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Have action items to make sure the is advancement on the vision you set in the meeting.
Parminder Sohal
50 months ago
Hi Parminder, great additional advise on top of all the excellent tips mentioned above. I am glad to see we are on the right course with our preparations - Dudley 50 months ago

some initial thoughts already

  • make sure you have non-competitive leaders in the room ... more and more difficult since companies are moving to adjacent industries, but still give it a try
  • ensure that those leaders understand none of these discussions are shared outside ... it remains in the group and the companies
  • take care of inspiration material or inspiring speakers that explain you key trends
  • think what to do with that input .. any good leader nowadays knows these trends, but what are you going to do with it in these sessions. How will you profit from the diverse audience in the room...
Frank Dethier
50 months ago
Dear Frank, thank you for sharing your first thoughts. I would like to challenge the condition you mention concerning non competitors. How could we explore level playing field areas that do allow collaboration. Per example in the telecom segment where competition is killing, yet still telco's share network infrastructure to expand local markets. Or Apple and Samsung - Dudley 50 months ago
Apple is Relying on its Biggest Competitor for the OLED Displays on the New iPhone - Dudley 50 months ago
Thanks and no worries about the challenge :-) ... Apple and Samsung are different cause this is a customer-supplier relationship for me. But you can also let competitors collaborate by scoping the excercise carefully. E.g. in Mobile domain, we were working together on creating a new standard, but afterwards competing in the market. - Frank 50 months ago
Thanks for explaining in more detail Frank. You are right about the difference between customer-supplier as aposed to partnership/collaboration. I always explain to customers how customer/supplier relationships historically shifted into 4 levels of collaboration 1. Aliance 2.portfolio 3. innovation networks 4. Ecosystems. - Dudley 50 months ago

Hi Dudley. I'd say it depends what you (or they) want to achieve from the sessions. Can you say any more about what these sessions would be trying to achieve? thanks

Alan A
50 months ago
Hi Alan. Thanks for reaching out. Good question. The boardroom sessions are ment to share vision with cross industry corporate leaders about the impact of macro trends on their business. The deliverable should be to identify and capture generic business challenges. Hope this answers your question? Looking forward to your hear your feedback. Thanks. - Dudley 50 months ago
Thanks Dudley. In that case I'd say you need some market research to see if you can offer something unique that the market doesn't already have. From your reply to Frank it sounds like you want people from the same industry sector, but they will already have membership groups and conferences addressing macro trends, and challenges. How are you thinking your event would be different? - Alan 50 months ago

Hi Dudley,

I suggest this age old tool:  the parking lot.   This allows the team to set aside peripheral issues that would otherwise take up valuable time in a respectful manner.   Remaining on topic with talented teams who have a lot to offer on various subjects is sometimes a challenge. 

Megan Hamilton
50 months ago
Hi Megan, thank you for your comment. And that is absolutely true. A lot of time is consumed with off topic issues. - Dudley 49 months ago

What fun....after being a CEO for over a decade, you realize that board meetings often have happened before they start. That's lesson one. Those with deep financial and or strategic interests (often board observers) have already been talking for hours, u more typically over days and months to push their agendas and to understand the CEO and management teams performance and link to company performance versus their objectives.

First, I'd read the book and watch the videos: "Presenting To Win" by Jerry Weismann. Thousands of CEOs use his methods and have had his training.

Second, insure you are also in tune with your board - make time to speak with them each privately for mentorship, understanding and of course to understand emerging board room issues. No one cares about your slides - you should in the case of a board sent them at least two to three days earlier. They know what's in them. Accordingly, keep slides simple, but on point. No complexity unless asked so keep those slides aside. Show the bottom lie messages crisply, simply. Even note the major challenges, issues and questions you know may or are sure will be asked. Direct the discussion. To this end, such messages will show beyond private conversations and abject performance that you see what's going on and what may be coming up. Finally, when a choice is there, show three options. Not jus because they exist, but so that they can see the strategy impacts visually, side by side.

Third, make them all comfortable. Good food, not cheap, crappy food. Nice drinks. Don't go beyond a full day. Make sure accommodations have been preset for those who ant them. have an "optional dinner" the night before - a meeting before the meeting. See their faces, attitudes, interactions, body language, etc... Get ahead of certain issues, topics, ideas, thoughts. Spend the money to get some nice dishes, setting not expensive but not Walmart. Be sensitive to each person's needs know them, address them, from food allergies, to the actual food, to snacks or things that each likes. Make them comfortable.

Fourth, schedule. Have committee meetings first, before the big one. Maybe 7-8 am. A break from 8:00-8:30. Some breakfast food, danish, coffee, tea, etc... Start at 8:30 and unless directly instructed or asked show an overview of what's up, key topics and a schedule. Usually top line items first, the top three to five successes, changes, challenges. Next, go into financials and staffing status. Then go as you see fit - commercial, R&D, strategic initiatives, major topics and decisions Close with an hands executive session - the entire board - 15 minutes unless instructed otherwise to close. Then allow a board with no staff Board members (CEO, CXO's) in the room. Only investment or independent board members. Have a single attendee from that close with the CEO about any significant issues they feel like discussing.

Those are my thoughts. Hope they help. The smaller the board, the earlier stage the firm, the more there will be some deviation.

Adam Malofsky, PhD
50 months ago
Hi Adam, Happy New Year! Good tip about Jerry Weisman. Quote; "what is said, is less important than what is heared'. Thank you for contributing. Our board room sessions are not internally but we organize them for cross industry board room members. The sessions are focussed on thriving in a disruptive environment. activating strategic innovation programs in response to mega/macro/micro trends. - Dudley 49 months ago
  • book a meeting room and prepare the seating arrangement (several shapes are used, e.g. U-shape, hollow square, octagon, etc.) based on the number of participants
  • prepare a panelist
  • set up an agenda: schedule the discussions times and set up a time for Q&A
  • clarify the objective of the boardroom and highlight the confidentiality of the discussions
  • feed the starting of the discussion and then support this: remember that you are a facilitator. don't have just a passive audience
  • ask for a final feedback
Paolo Beffagnotti
49 months ago

Have some input?