Checklist: Making board papers matter

By governance expert Lynn Cadman

Lynn Cadman
Lynn Cadman

Have you ever spent hours crafting board papers that go unread until halfway through the meeting? How can trustees and staff ensure they're getting the most out of them?

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve: is the matter for decision, discussion or information? Is the rationale reasonable? Sometimes you need to state the obvious.

Would you make a decision on the basis of a paper's content? Is the information provided timely, relevant, pitched appropriately and persuasive? If not, then decide whether you need to include it.

Different people think in different ways. Some people like detail, others prefer information to be summarised. Catering for the individual preferences of trustees can increase engagement.

Give the board options to consider while highlighting key points for discussion to steer them in the right direction.

Think about how and when papers are circulated. Emailing papers to a trustee who has a flaky WiFi connection means the papers are unlikely to be digested thoroughly. Remember to ask the trustees for their feedback when the meeting is over.

Governance Advice

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