Throughout my career, I have coordinated numerous board of directors meetings for executives and clients I support. One of my clients is on multiple boards and coordinating his calendar, travel, and participation in the respective meetings that occur monthly or quarterly for his boards can become quite a challenge if some key elements are overlooked – or left undone – by the administrative support staff involved in planning these meetings.  Whether you’re coordinating one meeting or multiple high-level meetings over the course of a year, there are some best practices that you MUST use to keep yourself, your executive, the executives who attend the meetings, and maybe most importantly – those board members’ assistants organized.  When you implement these key strategies, all of the planning will run more smoothly, and your efforts will be genuinely appreciated by all.

Best Practice #1:
Create a master MEETING DATE LIST for all board (and related) meetings for the entire year.

This master meeting date list should include:

  1. Company Name or Logo at the top
  2. Board of Directors Meeting Dates for [YEAR]
  3. List of meeting dates including day of the week:
    • Monday, January 31, 2011
      OR
    • January 31, 2011 (Monday)
  4. Location for each respective meeting
    • January 31, 2011 (Monday) – Chicago Office
      OR
    • January 31, 2011 (Monday) – Via Video Conference
  5. Type of meeting
    • Board of Directors Meeting
    • Audit Committee Meeting
    • Compensation Committee Meeting
    • Executive Committee Meeting
    • Board Dinner
  6. Topic to be covered (optional)
    • 1st Quarter Results
    • 2nd Quarter Results
    • Budget Review
  7. Date it was last updated and by whom in the footer. (This is VERY IMPORTANT!) It may even be helpful to include your e-mail or phone number so they know how to reach you with questions or future updates.

Once you have this list assembled, distribute this list to the executives who are on the board and their assistants.  When there is an update to the list, make the changes, update the revised date in the footer, and redistribute to all of the board members and their assistants so they have the latest list for their reference also.

Having a master list assembled like this creates an instant overview of all of the most important details for each meeting. Whether your board members are on other company boards or not, these specific details are required to keep your board communications clear and concise for everyone involved.

Best Practice #2:
Create a master contact list for all board members and their assistants.

This list should include:

Executive/Board Member Contact Information

  1. Executive/Board Member’s Name
  2. Company Name
  3. Title
  4. Business Address
  5. Business E-mail
  6. Business Phone
  7. Business Fax
  8. Cell Phone
  9. Personal Email (if necessary)
  10. Home Address (for sending holiday cards, etc)
  11. Home Phone (for after hours emergency contact, if needed)
  12. Home Fax
  13. Which board committees they are on: Audit, Compensation, Executive, etc.

Administrative/Executive Assistant Contact Information

  1. Admin’s Name
  2. Company (Note: It’s not always the same if they have a Virtual Assistant.)
  3. Title
  4. Business Address
  5. Business E-mail
  6. Business Phone
  7. Business Fax
  8. Cell Phone
  9. Personal Email (if necessary)
  10. Home Address (for sending holiday cards, etc)
  11. Home Phone (for after hours emergency contact, if needed)
  12. Does this person carry a Blackberry or iPhone?

You’ll also want to make sure you have a footer in this document with the date it was last updated and by whom also.

Having a master contact list assembled is useful in several ways:

  • If board materials need to be sent to board members prior to the meeting, some may request delivery to business addresses and others to home addresses.  If you check before each meeting to see where each member would like their materials mailed for the upcoming meeting, you don’t have to ask for specific mailing information each time when you have a master contact list.
  • It becomes a handy reference list for the board members and their assistants.  It will also SAVE YOU TIME because they won’t have to contact you each time they need contact information for someone on the board if you keep them regularly updated with any changes.
  • I also make it a habit of printing the most recent list and sending it to the board meeting with my executive so they have it fully accessible in case they need to reach someone while they are traveling.  I also put this information in their Outlook contacts so it’s all available electronically as well.  But I’ve found the paper back up is appreciated.

Best Practice #3:
Use very specific subject lines in your calendar program meeting invites for ANY meeting request you send.

Don’t assume that because you are familiar with all of the meeting details that all executives or their assistants are as well.  (You know how we admins are often times the last to know?)

Here are some strategies for creating your calendar meeting invites that will help those on the receiving end immensely.  Make sure your subject line includes ALL of this information:

  1. Company Name
  2. Type of Meeting (e.g. Board Meeting, Audit Committee Meeting)
  3. Time & Time Zone
  4. Meeting Location

So a sample meeting invite subject line may look like this:

  • All Things Admin Board Meeting – 3 PM CST – Chicago, IL
    OR
  • All Things Admin Board Dinner – 6 PM CST – Maggiano’s
    OR
  • All Things Admin Audit Committee Mtg – 2 PM CST – Via Teleconference

I know most electronic calendar programs have a “location” field, but I prefer to have it in the subject line so it’s bolded with the rest of the information.  If there is more specific information such as a board room name or a restaurant address, include that in the “location” field instead.

This is immensely helpful when you are working across time zones.  If I want to double check to make sure my calendar program placed the meeting at the right time of the day, having the meeting time and time zone in the subject line is a HUGE time saver.  I can verify the data on sight without having to dig through files, papers, or old e-mails to confirm.

If your board does not include executives from outlying areas or other parts of the country, that doesn’t mean it always won’t.  Get in the habit of using these strategies now, so you’re fully prepared when your role changes, and you already have these best practices fully in use.

GETTING WHAT YOU NEED FROM OTHERS

Sometimes you are NOT the primary facilitator of information as it relates to a particular board, but you may support one of the board members.  If you are not receiving this type of information from the person who is the meeting organizer, it’s o.k. to ask for what you need.  The contact lists and meeting date lists will save them time and be valuable to everyone involved.

Approaching strategy #1:

  • Make a personal phone call and introduced yourself to the admin who plans the meetings.
  • Be very polite (and watch your tone).
  • Ask him/her if it would be possible to add the information you would like to see to the document they distribute (e.g. the company logo or company name to the top of the board meeting date list or the updated date in the footer).
  • If the other admin can see the value, it becomes a very easy one-time fix that everyone benefits from.

Approaching strategy #2:

  • If I figure out that the admin who is coordinating the meetings doesn’t have some of these key strategies already in place, I create the document that I need and format it with all of the required information.
  • I then forward the information to the admin who coordinates the meetings on the other end and tell her I needed this information compiled for my executive’s easy reference, so if it’s something that would help her or other executives and their assistants on the board, go ahead and feel free to use it moving forward.
  • Most of the time, they are more than happy to use the file and keep it updated moving forward.
  • If they choose not to use it, I simply maintain it as best I can on my own.  But I often find once my executive takes my documents to a meeting and other executives on the board see the information assembled in such an organized and easy to reference manner…they want one, too.  So it becomes the “corporate standard” without much ado from that point forward.

And whatever you do, print a copy out and put it in your own admin binder as well!  I even keep a copy in my “work from home binder” so I always have it accessible.

Think about what makes your life easier when you’re planning meetings and events.  Then do it for the others you interact with also.  You don’t have to ask permission to create a resource that will be helpful to you and everyone you communicate with.  It will add value to all meeting participants and their admins, and it will cause the planning process to run more smoothly.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Get started today. Take the initiative and do it!

© 2011 Julie Perrine International, LLC

If you need some help creating these templates, check out the NEW All Things Admin Board of Directors Meeting Planning Templates Package here.

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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.