Crises can hit any organization. That’s why emergency board meetings are crucial – they bring leadership together to assess the situation and take swift action. But today’s complex challenges demand more. 

A 2023 PwC survey highlights a shift towards integrated resilience programs, requiring seamless collaboration across departments. With that in mind, emergency board meetings ensure alignment with a comprehensive emergency response plan. 

This article explains how to run emergency board meetings and offers a customizable agenda template. In addition, it describes the best practices and processes, from pre-meeting preparations to post-meeting follow-ups.

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What is an emergency board meeting

An emergency board meeting is an unscheduled gathering called by the board of directors to discuss unforeseen challenges and imminent threats that require immediate attention. In general, they differ from ordinary board meetings in handling urgent issues. 

Because of the urgency, emergency board meeting notice is usually shorter than that for normal meetings. While legal requirements and voting processes continue to apply, procedures can be shortened.

The agenda for this type of meeting is narrowly focused on specific matters, so there is usually little to no time for discussion of other topics.

Note: Discover what a committee meeting is in our dedicated blog post. 

Benefits of emergency meetings

While such a meeting is a great opportunity to tackle a range of corporate problems, its benefits are not limited just to this. Let’s break down into three main advantages of calling emergency meetings:

  1. Effective crisis management and response. When faced with crises, such as a data breach or natural disasters, emergency procedures minimize damage, initiate a proactive recovery plan, and give a sense of control.
  2. Unified leadership. Unforeseen circumstances easily lead to confusion and fragmented decision-making. These meetings consolidate leadership, bringing together the boardroom during hard times.
  3. Seizing new opportunities. Sometimes, emergency situations present a chance for positive changes. During urgent meetings, the board can quickly evaluate the opportunity and assess its alignment with the organization’s strategic plans.

How to call an emergency board meeting

There will be moments when critical issues require your board’s active participation. So understanding how to convene the special meeting is critical for problem-solving.  

While general recommendations for board meeting preparation are similar, let’s take a closer look at the steps emergency meeting involves.

1. Check corporate bylaws

Make sure you’re following the proper procedures. Bylaws outline specific notification timelines, proper documentation needed, voting requirements, and acceptable reasons for calling an emergency meeting. 

2. Provide notice to board members

Even in critical situations, board members should be informed with a written notice. It should include the meeting’s purpose, date, time, and physical location. Think about planning meeting logistics and communication channels for remote participation if physical attendance is impossible for such meetings. Consider electronic communication via emails or board portal software. 

3. Record meeting minutes 

Meeting minutes are official records and serve as a reference point for future actions and to ensure compliance. The board president should assign someone to take corporate minutes that capture the main points, action items, and next steps.

4. Incorporate board portal software 

Finally, consider using board portal software for sending notices, creating agendas, hosting virtual meetings, and many other tasks. For example, iDeals Board allows for a secure document repository, tools for fast meeting minutes, and agenda creation despite short notice.

Emergency board meeting rules for posting an agenda

While the urgency of the events defines emergency board meetings, meeting results are heavily dependent on communication. This requires a clear agenda that covers the meeting topic. Specific regulations and criteria regulate the publication of agendas so let’s delve into the important considerations:

  1. Timeliness. The agenda must be circulated as quickly as possible, usually within 24 hours after calling the meeting.
  2. Focus. The agenda for an emergency board meeting should be time-stamped and narrowly focused on the one topic at hand.
  3. Supporting materials. If relevant, consider including supporting materials with the agenda, such as reports, data, previous written consent, or presentations for more context.  

Tips for running an emergency board meeting

Here are six tips to ensure productive decision-making processes and effective communication. 

  1. Before calling a meeting, assess if the situation truly warrants immediate board attention. Can the issue wait for a regular meeting, or will there be significant harm if action isn’t taken swiftly?
  2. Identify key decision points you need to address during these crucial gatherings and put them first.
  3. If you are planning a virtual conference, test your video equipment beforehand. If you’re utilizing a board portal like iDeals Board, ensure everyone can access the platform.
  4. Have physical copies of key documents on hand in case of technical glitches so as not to disrupt communication
  5. Manage time effectively for quick and decisive action, for this allocate time for each action item.
  6. While maintaining necessary confidentiality guidelines,  communicate the meeting’s outcome.

Emergency board meeting agenda template

The agenda should clearly explain the emergency, summarizing the situation, its potential impact, and any relevant background information.

It should also outline the specific actions or decisions that need to be made during the meeting, such as creating a response plan, allocating resources, or delegating tasks.

When creating an emergency board meeting agenda, it’s important to consider the potential impact of the emergency on the organization, prioritizing those that threaten critical areas such as operations, finances, or reputation.

Finally, the agenda should be realistic in its proposed actions, taking into account the resources available to take immediate action.

Struggling with managing the emergency? Download the emergency board meeting agenda for collaborative decision-making!

Key takeaways

  1. Emergency board meetings are vital for dealing with unforeseen challenges and require a well-defined agenda.
  2. The agenda should be focused on one particular issue, prioritize the affected areas, and propose realistic actions considering available resources.
  3. Effective communication is key, with timely notice to board members and a clear agenda outlining the situation, potential impact, and proposed solutions.
  4. With pre-built templates and easy editing tools, you can quickly draft and share the agenda within the portal.

On top of that, the top-notch board portal software automatically saves minutes, recordings (if enabled), and action items for future use. Consider reading a top providers overview to discover more about the advantages provided by various board portal providers. This way, you can identify the best solution for your needs.

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Casey Johnson Marketing strategist
Casey Johnson is a seasoned marketing strategist specializing in board portals. With over a decade of experience, she spearheads comprehensive marketing campaigns to enhance brand visibility and drive growth. Casey orchestrates content plans, conducts market research, and collaborates with content creators to ensure impactful marketing strategies.
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