Board packet — why we send a letter instead of slides

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.

3 thoughts on “Board packet — why we send a letter instead of slides

  1. Remember how it was when a professor was TALKING through the points while WRITING on the white board (or, chalk board, for those born before 1974)? You heard the EMPHASIS in his voice, along with the PASSION for the idea, and the ENERGY from even a low level of exertion that it took to write it out.

    You can get the same effect writing out your board or business presentation on the white board or flip chart. Not the whole thing, mind you, just bullet points with a key word or three that helps your audience engage and remember your substance. Plus, having that marker in your hand gives you control of the presentation, much like a conductor’s baton.

    • Love this suggestion for many settings – but not board meetings, because you really want to try to avoid using the time for a presentation rather than a discussion. My aim is to ensure everyone understands what’s going on with the business before the meeting starts.

  2. Pingback: How to write a monthly report for your investors or manager | A Founder's Notebook

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