Oana's Ohana

The First Board Meeting - what you need to know

1) Know where everyone is at - Have 1:1s with each of the board members before the board meeting to give the board member the feeling that they are being heard and not to have them speak up and throw unexpected grenades in the meeting.

2) Must have highlights/lowlights slide to set the tone, and steer the conversation in the right direction. This will also make sure everyone feels heard because you’d probably include what they told you in the 1:1. The objective isn’t to cover everything but rather prioritize and if there are differences to discuss those that are important to understand. Don’t have more than 3 highlights and 3 lowlights.

3) Key metrics slide is important - only talk to what’s on the slides, the why behind the numbers will be covered in other sections. Good CEOs include an important metric or two that is specific to your business, on top of the other standard metrics.

4) Good CEOs introduce the meeting, set up the agenda and then they hand off quickly. The CFO will talk about the numbers, if we made plan, then hand off to the Sales lead who will provide more color, then Customer Success will talk about churn retention and last is product/engineering talking about roadmap and plans. The product focus often comes from the prior board meeting.

5) Know that the board members will assess your executive team when they present and decide if they should be kept around or fired.

6) Note that most VCs are impatient, they’ll think “so what?” to anything you say so it’s good practice when you say something to label it before saying it. So say “I’m not asking you to make a decision, I’m just informing you” or say “I want an answer”.

7) The key thing is for the CEO to control the meeting and not let it get controlled by one investor or the “mob”.

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Comments
  1. Anonymous — May 4, 2022:

    Very helpful! Especially for early stage founders. As a series C CEO, I often advise early stage founders on a lot of call-outs there especially the 1:1 before the board meeting. This helps in avoiding any surprises.