The key issue for the Chairman is when and how does your Board become valuable and not intrusive to the operating of the company.  What are the 2 things that he or she should avoid:

"Seagull" Board meetings are when the Chairman allows board members to fly in for the board meeting, enjoy the food & beverage, crap all over the place (the distracting advice), and fly away.

"Mushroom" Board meetings are when the Chairman allows board members to be treated like mushrooms: keep them in the dark; overload them with data (and sometimes useless information), and hope they move out of the dark and provide powerful ideas.

1. Framework

A strong framework created by an effective Chairman (in concert with the CEO) can bring Board wisdom into the company and accelerate growth and success. This framework will set the mood to ensure strategic input and insights are complementary to the internal thinking of the team.

2. Agenda creation and management

The agenda is the choreography of the meeting.  If your Chairman does not create an optimal agenda, you will not get optional results.  Preparing the agenda in advance is the foundation of a powerful Board meeting.

3. Prepare only what is valuable

My rule of thumb is that everything that is produced for the Board, must add operational insights to the operation of the company.  If the Board asks for something that the SMT does not see as valuable, either the Board has asked for the wrong report, or the SMT had not yet developed the proper report.  A mood of cooperation between a good Board and a receptive CEO/SMT are priceless, especially in today's world of rapid and ever accelerating change.

4. Avoid PowerPoint Overload

PowerPoint can add value in keeping the audience focused, however moderation and minimization is the key to success.  Jeff Bezos has a rule of thumb, effectively portrayed by Inc. 500 is that seagulls and mushrooms finds solace in PowerPoint.

Minimizing PowerPoint does not mean one does not prepare, however the preparation is different. If it cannot be said from the heart and mind without information overload, maybe it should not be said.  If it is data intensive, prepare and send a concise 3-4-page summary of the data in advance, because it needs to analyzed and understood in advance of the meeting anyway.

In summary, a great chairman manages the mood and the close.

Board members should want to go to Board meetings.  Senior Management should want to go to Board meetings. They should enjoy the value that comes from the get-together, while being proud to participate and add value.  The Chairman is the the leader of the meeting, ensuring that multiple viewpoints and opinions are heard.  The effective managing the closing comments of the Board will effect the mood and performance of the players in the forthcoming period.

Published on: Jun 7, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.