IN THE ERA OF SARBANES-OXLEY, corporate boards are in the spotlight more than ever — and so are board meetings. Board Strategies, a resource for corporate board members developed by SecTec LLC, Research Triangle Park, N.C., offers the following strategies that meeting executives may be able to suggest or employ to ensure that these meetings are efficient and productive.

GIVE ADEQUATE NOTICE: If board members do not attend the meeting because they lack sufficient notice, the meeting cannot fulfill its purpose. Establish regular meeting dates, and clear the dates with board members a year in advance.

AGENDA: Many companies establish a standard basic agenda for board meetings and add special items as the need arises. In terms of topics, the key is to have input from all board members as well as the management team for pressing company issues.

TIMELY INFORMATION PACKAGES: All board members should be asked what information they would like to receive for each meeting and in what format. Packages should be received by board members at least a week in advance to give them enough time to review information.

ADEQUATE SCHEDULE: Sufficient information and a good agenda will not ensure a productive meeting unless the board has adequate time to discuss all agenda items. To do this, board members need to be informed before making travel arrangements about the approximate length of the meeting. Many companies hold a dinner meeting for board members the night before the meeting to make sure that they are not traveling the morning of the meeting.

PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS: To promote full discussion by all, board members should be seated so that they can see and hear each other clearly. Interruptions should be kept to a minimum, so discourage the use of cell phones during meetings. Slides and other visual aids should also be on hand.

CHANGE VENUES: If directors reside in different parts of the country, consider having board meetings at different locations to shift the burden of travel. Holding board meetings the day before or after a major industry trade show in the same city as the trade show presents a good opportunity to educate directors about the company's industry.

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