A board report is a document that comprises a company’s current performance and development goals and is distributed among board members before a board meeting. It is basically a reference document detailing information on the points mentioned in the board agenda, meeting minutes, or executive director’s report.
Board reports, or board papers, are necessary for a company to make important financial decisions on its development path and are especially useful when any legal issue arises.
Read this article to learn how to write a board meeting report and explore the top tips for writing a report for the board of directors.
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The purpose of a board report
Relying on a board report presented at the board meeting, board members make essential decisions that often define the company’s development path. That’s why writing a board members meeting report is an integral part of board meeting preparation.
Below are the main reasons for doing so:
- Keeping board members informed of the company’s performance. Providing details on how the company is doing is the primary reason for writing a board of directors report. During board meetings, board members can see which company’s goals were accomplished and which were not met since the last board meeting.
- Hearing committee reports on particular tasks. Often, board members are assigned to board committees based on their expertise and are to fulfill certain tasks or conduct research on a particular matter before a board meeting. The reports created by committee members should be included in the board report so that board members can track the progress.
- Initiating discussion. At the beginning of a board meeting, an executive director presents a board report. By it, he draws attention to the company’s progress and failures and raises important points requiring discussion. Thus, board members can ask questions or request more details to prepare for the next board meeting.
- Instilling board members with a sense of enthusiasm. When committee members read reports, it creates an atmosphere of general accomplishment and inspires board members to make positive development decisions.
Board report structure
The key point of learning how to write a report for a board meeting is to define a clear structure.
|Important: A good board report should include images, numbered lists, bullet points, graphs, and tables.|
A board report’s structure might vary depending on its goal. However, a great board report generally consists of the following:
- Title. State the main purpose of the report in a few words.
- Table of contents. Create an itemized list for larger reports.
- Introduction. Shortly summarize what this report is about.
- Key points for discussion. Write clear headings for all important aspects of the report.
- Key performance indicators (KPI) overview. Highlight the KPIs for a particular period and mention their completion status.
- Summary. Analyze the presented information, and stress what actions were taken or are further required.
|Important: Make sure the board report is not longer than 3-5 pages and is in PDF format.|
Top 10 tips on how to write a board report
Learn how to easily write a report to the board of directors of a company by following these recommendations.
1. Create a board report template
By investing time in creating a board report template, you’ll faster write board reports in the future. Additionally, writing a report to the board of directors sample allows for creating a corporate look of a board report. This helps every board member get used to the particular structure, so they know what to expect from every board meeting.
2. Study the audience
Knowing individual board members’ expertise helps to create an informative report in a clear and concise format. Some board members might often be unaware of certain industry essentials though they are professionals in their area. For example, a particular board member who is a finance expert may need more explanation on the marketing metrics of the industry.
Make sure all the points covered in the board report are clear to every board member.
3. Make sure the board of directors easily understands the report
Simple language is the key tip on how to write a report to a board of directors. It’s essential for every board member to understand the report’s main points because they use it to make decisions.
Additionally, make sure you use the language all board members understand. Provide translated reports if needed.
4. Provide detailed financial information
Statistics and figures don’t always provide enough clear information to grasp the whole picture. Make sure to present the organization’s key financial statements and compare them with the last report and the overall market results. This will help board members form a well-considered decision on the company’s next moves.
5. Point out the positives and negatives
To make a reasonable decision, the board of directors needs to know the company’s true state. Showing only good results misleads the board of directors, which immensely influences key decisions.
A great board report always includes bad news with a detailed explanation of the failure(s).
6. Include visuals
There are more chances that board members will read a board report if infographics, tables, pictures, or graphs are included. Graphics make it easier to visualize complex, crucial information when it’s presented with the help of visuals. Moreover, it helps to write a professional report to the board committee in a more engaging way.
7. Raise important questions
The board members’ role is not only to make important financial decisions. They also lend their knowledge that helps grow the company. So, use their professionalism effectively and raise questions board members can answer based on their expertise.
8. Make sure KPIs are easy to reach and review
Put KPIs in a dashboard so board members can easily reach them and compare them with the current progress. This helps board members to make informed decisions on furthering the company’s growth.
9. Use board management software
Using board management software is highly recommended for those struggling with how to write a report to the board quickly and effectively. Board portals automate most of the steps, which significantly saves time. Moreover, board members can discuss certain issues within the software, which keeps corporate secrets more private. Additionally, board portals allow for last-minute online editing, which reduces the need to re-print new report versions.
10. Respect the board’s time
Even the clearest and most concise board portal requires time to review. A day or two is not enough for board members to read a board report and understand each point. It’s better to send a board report at least one or two weeks before the board meeting. This way, every board member will have time to digest the information, form questions, and think of important suggestions for the company’s growth.
Board report template usage
Using a board report template saves significant time, which is especially important if board members meet monthly.
The top recommendation on how to write a monthly board report is to create a template to use for all future meetings.
However, it’s even easier to do with the help of board management software because most providers usually offer many templates, including a board report template, a board meeting minutes template, and a board meeting agenda template.
Taboos when writing a report to a board of directors
Doing the following can ruin a board report:
- Using complicated technical language. The years of expertise in business don’t mean that board members won’t get bored when reading dry industry jargon and studying statistics. Important information is easier to understand when written using short words with a clear structure.
- Forgetting about visuals. Images make complex information easier to comprehend and remember. Make sure to add pie charts, graphs, and tables.
- Deliver a board report an hour before the meeting. When someone is late for a meeting, it implies a not-that-important-meeting-for-me attitude. The same goes for the way board reports are prepared and delivered. Sending a report to board members a week or two weeks before the meeting shows the author cares about their quality review.
Board management software for creating board reports
Board portals offer an easily-planned, effective, and paperless board meeting.
With board management software, committee members can prepare a board report in a matter of minutes because most steps are automated:
- Upload large volumes of data in seconds via bulk upload.
- Board report templates enable fast report preparation.
- Customization options allow for creating branded board reports.
- Board members can communicate inside the software and discuss specific issues before the meeting.
- It’s possible to conduct a virtual board meeting via Zoom from within the software.
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A board report summarizes all the essentials about the company’s current situation, analyzes performance since the last meeting, and raises issues for future development.
It’s important to create a board report to keep board members informed about the company’s performance, hear committee reports on particular issues, initiate important discussions, and give board members a sense of involvement and enthusiasm.
Some top tips on how to write a board report example include using board report templates, making sure every board member understands the board report, showing both the positives and the negatives, and providing overall financial information.
Additionally, it’s important to opt for a clear and concise format when creating a board report, add charts, tables, graphs, and visuals, and use board management software for faster and more efficient board report preparation.
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Is there a difference between the board’s, committee’s, and director’s reports?
In short, yes. Committee reports and a CEO’s report are part of the general board report.
Committees write reports based on a certain issue they were asked to research.
An executive director provides a comprehensive report on the performance of the entire company.
A board report summarizes committee reports and the director’s report.
How to write a report for a nonprofit board of directors?
The key recommendation on how to write a board report nonprofit organization requires is to sum up all of the company’s activity. Generally, writing nonprofit board reports doesn’t differ much from writing for-profit board reports. However, it’s equally important to acknowledge contributors and attach photos and financial reports.
Who can sign the board report?
A board report is usually signed by the company’s chairperson. However, in case there’s no authority for a chairperson to sign a board report, at least two company directors must do so.