I stopped using a PowerPoint for our board packet a while ago. It was too easy to make minor updates to last quarter’s slides, leading to formulaic results. So instead, I now provide two Google docs to the board, which I share with the whole company:
1. A comprehensive set of time series charts. Time series charts display trends much more clearly than this quarter’s number compared to last quarter and the same quarter a year earlier. I divide the charts into thematic sections, with each chart numbered so it can be referenced.
2. A letter covering what happened during the quarter, our focus for next quarter, and our strategic position. The letter is 3-5 pages long, and references the time series charts. I keep all our board letters in a single Google doc (newest at the top), making it easy to compare this quarter’s letter to the letters from the previous quarters.
Writing the board letter take time. But it’s worthwhile, because it forces me to take a fresh look at our business each quarter and articulate my conclusions. And there’s another benefit of a letter versus a slide deck: you can’t read a letter out loud during a board meeting, so everyone reads it in advance and we devote the board meeting to real discussion.