What are best practices when tackling your first board meeting?

May 17, 2023

Congratulations, your first attempt to raise a large amount of capital has been a success! You can now continue to develop your product at full speed. It is, however, equally important to realise that you now have a responsibility to the shareholder base and Board representatives will be closely monitoring the development of the company. Properly preparing your first board meeting (and those subsequent) for this quorum is therefore extremely important.

Sharing information in an effective and efficient way during your board meetings can be quite challenging. You are expected to share the right information at the right time and with the right level of detail. Failing to do so can lead to unnecessary discussions and concerns, and possibly loss of conviction among the investors, which you will need on board for the long run.

Stepping up your game

New shareholders bringing in large tickets means you have higher expectations to manage. Knowing your investors and their sensitivities well can make all the difference in a board meeting. Do they have particular concerns about CMC with your product? Be sure to address those concerns head on. Were certain elements of your regulatory strategy questioned? Explicitly revisit the strategy and share the mitigating efforts taken by the Management Team.

Preparation is key

You may be in complete control of your company and all the curve balls being thrown at you, but if you cannot relay this in an effective way, the board may question the Management Team’s capabilities. By being well-prepared, you can reassure them that you are on top of things. You can achieve this by sharing the agenda and pre-reading materials in a timely fashion, structuring your story and deck in a logical way, and ensuring your slides look professional.

Also make sure to discern between primary and secondary topics, and clearly share how these topics play into the status quo. A general rule of thumb is always to be sure the ‘so what?’ question is covered and the bottom line is placed at the top of the slide.

Key chapters in your deck should include:

  • Here, you discuss topics such as the impact of the cash runway forecast on financing activities, business development, (future) manufacturing and executive appointment plans.
  • Share updates on operational plans, including the clinical and regulatory plan, CMC and contractor relationships. Define clearly and revisit corporate goals.
  • These items include approval of prior Board meeting minutes and resolutions, budget vs. actual and general updates. A board meeting often revolves around these items. Although they are fundamental to the meeting, they should not be its key goal, which should be discussing your strategy and corporate goals. Hence, we suggest that you reserve time for housekeeping after the key strategic items have been discussed.

Placing the right people in the same room

Time is extremely valuable and everyone values efficiency, so you should be mindful of that throughout your meeting. Carefully considering the different constellations of people who should participate in the closed/executive session, open session and various sub-committees will drive the efficiency of board meetings. Having a separate scientific committee or other specialised committee to pre-discuss critical items can also reduce anxiety amongst board members as they know an in-depth review has taken place and any issues are being dealt with adequately.

Remember why you have these board meetings

Board meetings are not a one-way flow of information. Yes, the Board expects reporting on past, present and future matters, but this is also an opportunity for you to leverage your board’s knowledge and expertise. Your board has a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the company and not in its members’ own interests. As such, you can tap into all the different experiences and know-how your board members possess to navigate the most challenging hurdles your company faces.

Recognize these issues or like to know more about how to prepare for your first board meeting?

Please reach out to Jordy Breuker or contact us via our contact forms. Like to stay up to date? Just fill in the form below to subscribe for our updates!

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