Working for a Company Secretary in one role and looking after 12 Committees in another means I have spent more time than I care to admit putting board papers together. They have been the absolute bane of my life and I must admit I hated that part of my role. Constantly chasing people for supporting papers, printing thousands and thousand of pieces of paper only to be told that the documents have been amended, stapling through massive reports – god I hated it.

That’s not even mentioning the unbelievable amount of paper cuts I got! Oh and the idiots that would mess up the order of my printing if I dared step away from the printer for two minutes. Urgh! I often had quite heated conversations with one of my managers about taking the board papers online or if that was too much of a leap just emailing them to board members. Neither happened and I was stuck printing out board packs practically every week. But, dear readers, through my wonderful experiences I am able to offer some tips for those of you that do still have to print out board papers. Here are my top ten tips on preparing board papers:

  • Print off a few extra copies of the board papers, someone will always forget to bring their pack.
  • Make sure you give strict deadlines to those who need to produce supporting papers. You can be pretty hardcore with anyone that is preparing a board paper who is not a board member – if they are late with the paper remind them it is going to the senior management team!
  • As soon as you receive one of the board papers print it off straight away. It is worth getting the papers organised over a period of time rather than a day before the meeting.
  • Insert a numbered divider in between each supporting document, this is particularly useful in a large pack. Then add the number of each board paper to the correlating agenda item.
  • Although time consuming it is worth delivering a copy of the board papers (in a confidential envelope) to each board member. At least you know they have received it.
  • Scan the final board papers into a PDF format for future reference. The document should be secured in a safe / password protected file.
  • If you are missing one or two supporting papers do not wait for these before you send out the board pack. Although a little frustrating you can send the additional papers to board members at a later date. Ideally you want to give the Executives plenty of time to read all the board pack prior to the meeting.
  • The agenda, action list and previous minutes should be the first three papers in a board pack.
  • Ideally the board pack should be bound but if this is not possible put all of the board papers in a clear plastic wallet so that they are neat and in the correct order.
  • Make sure each supporting paper is nicely formatted and easy to read. All of the supporting documents will enable the Executives to make business decisions. The easier the document is to understand the easier the decision is to make.