Agendas and papers for virtual meetings: Checklist

Agendas and papers for virtual meetings: Checklist

Here are two checklists for the Company Secretary to use when putting the agenda together and then working with the manager submitting the paper. Virtual board meetings are different: more than ever they need concise board papers and well-focused agendas.

Agendas for virtual meetings

Meeting Structure

  • How can the meeting schedule be split up to help concentration and energy levels?
  • How can we build in opportunities for informal discussions or virtual socialising? (eg small break-out groups on specific topics; lunch groups)
  • Can we avoid overly long sessions by moving committee meetings to a different date?
  • Will a pre-meeting on any topic help the meeting to stay focused?
  • Who is coming to introduce topics? Have I briefed them on virtual meeting etiquette?


  • Is it necessary to table this topic at this meeting?
  • Could this topic be dealt with in a board committee?
  • What do the Chair/Committee Chair want to achieve? Is Management aligned?
  • What are the specific Covid-19 angles that need to be considered?
  • Are we covering the topics we must cover even if Covid-19 is a major part of the agenda?
  • Are there topics we can move to a written resolution or “consent agenda” – or indicate clearly as simply “for noting”?
  • How long should be given to this topic at the meeting?
  • What is the most logical sequencing of topics on the agenda?
  • Are the management sponsors/owners clear from the agenda?

Final Check

  • Have we still got an agenda that is too long to maintain concentration? (2 hours maximum?). If so, where can we split it up to introduce breaks?

Board papers for virtual meetings

  • Have the Chair and Management agreed on the question to be submitted on this topic?
  • Is the paper format compatible with the board portal/virtual board meeting combination?
  • What is the target length and level of detail of the paper? How do we make sure it is a short as possible (limit to 5 pages maximum)?

Does the paper position the topic effectively? Does the summary make clear:

  • The purpose: decision, information, consultation
  • Why this is a priority now – and the possible consequences of delay
  • Management recommendation and rationale
  • How this relates to previous board discussion and decisions
  • Any Committee recommendation
  • Proposed resolution

Does the assessment set out the main points the Board must consider? For example:

  • Effect on the overall risk exposure
  • The operational consequences
  • The financial impact
  • Longer-term implications for our resilience
  • Link to our purpose and values
  • The impact on our reputation
  • The legal risks and our fiduciary responsibilities
  • Shareholder considerations
  • Implications for employees and culture
  • Balance of other stakeholder considerations: customers, suppliers, environment


  • Does the paper tell the story without the need for further explanations and a presentation in the meeting? If not, can it be adapted to work “standalone”?
  • Is the level of detail right for a NED audience?
  • Are there opportunities to simplify the message, avoiding jargon and acronyms?

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