How To Write Reports to a Board of Directors

Keeping the flow of correct information between management and the board of directors is important to making informed decisions and taking expedited actions. One way to make sure that the right information is seen is via regular reports provided to the board of directors. These reports should be in a professional report format so that they can be easily digested, with the pertinent details highlighted. Use a standard board report structure to make the greatest impact.

While shorter reports might look more like a memo with key headers and bullets outlining key performance indicators (KPIs), lengthier reports will look more like an academic report, with a cover page and table of contents. Regardless of the reports length, make sure that the first part of the report states where the report is coming from, the time frame that report covers, and who the report is going to. Title the report in a way that says what the report discusses, so that readers can quickly file it and relocate it, if needed. For example, “Annual Sales Reports Based On Territories,” clearly states what the readers will discover in the report.

Use headers and bullets within the reports, so as to enable board members to scan through the topics and find the relevant information. Remember that reports are used to get action from the board, so that these reports can update board members on a project they are already monitoring. There should be an introduction and a summary section, to give the board an overview of the information within the report.

Here are some tips for how to write a board meeting report:
  1. Create a director’s board meeting template. …
  2. Know your audience. …
  3. Help the board understand the report. …
  4. Provide the whole of the financials. …
  5. Provide the positives and negatives. …
  6. Add visuals. …
  7. Ask important questions. …
  8. Keep KPIs within reach.

The Board Report

Purpose of a board report in business

The three primary purposes of board reports in business are:

The frequency for writing board reports depends on how often board directors might want to receive updates. This may be monthly or yearly.

What is a board report?

A board report is a formal document summarizing the performance of a company, brand or organization. Board reports are important for establishing what a company has accomplished and which areas of operation may need attention. The information in reports for board directors might come from multiple departments in order to call attention to key business elements, adaptations and future predictions. For example, a board report may include the analytics behind marketing performance and explain the reasoning behind those numbers to provide future company projections.

How to write reports to the board of directors

When writing a report to a board of directors, consider these five steps:

1. Gather information

Request and gather all the information you need for the board report. This information may come from multiple teams or areas in an organization. For example, the marketing team may provide social media and website analytics. Meanwhile, a sales team might provide the number of sales made in the past year and how that number relates to previous years.

2. Organize elements

Arrange all the information for your board report clearly. This simple structure may follow the same order as described above:

3. Add data visuals

Add visual graphics, charts or tables to represent key data that might otherwise be complex. These can help make significant numbers and figures easier to understand. For example, you might add charts or visuals to represent sales numbers as compared to previous years.

4. Consider readability

It is important to remember that board reports should be simple and easy to read. One way to do this is to format written content into brief paragraphs, bullet points or numbered lists. Sometimes, reports can look like a collection of memos with this simple structure.

5. Prepare for questions

Brainstorm the types of questions the board of directors might ask you about the board report, then make sure the content in the board report already addresses the information about which the board is likely to ask.

Elements of a board report

Board reports may be the only item board directors read or reference in relation to business operations. Because of this, youll want to consider all the information and elements a board member may need in order to assess the business. These elements often include:

An overview

An overview summarizes what board directors will find in the board report. This section is usually short and focuses on the general information or key points. Key points might include the businesss primary areas of focus and their success over the past board report period.

A table of contents

A table of contents provides board directors with an index of what the report includes. This section allows board directors to locate information in reports easily. If they are looking for specific data on something, they can reference the table of contents to find the exact page number for that information in the report.

The businesss challenges

A board report may identify recent challenges to share how the business addressed them and what preventative steps they implemented. It is especially important to provide board directors with information on how the challenge or issue directly affected the business so they understand its relevance and if there are any ongoing concerns that need their attention or resources.

The businesss successes

A board report is a valuable opportunity to share accomplishments and milestones from the past year. These accomplishments may include revenue targets, website traffic or social media engagement. It is important to share anything that the organization is proud of from the past year to focus the board of directors attention on the businesss success, as this can persuade them to continue investing time and resources into the business.

Statistics and facts

Statistics and facts are a good way to provide board directors with data about how the company is performing. This helps share important summarized information quickly, which is beneficial because the board report addresses a significant amount of information in a succinct way. This information can also help leaders and board members make informed predictions about the future of the business.

Plans for the future

Informing the board with in-depth overviews about the organizations next steps is another important element of board reports. You can use this part of the document to bring the boards attention to the upcoming year and the future of the organization. This is where you might directly articulate where you need the boards assistance or identify the items that need their approval in order for you to move forward.

Templates for board reports

Templates are helpful tools for writing board reports, as they provide you with a model to follow for content and structure. If you have access to a previous board report, you might use this as a guide when creating your board report.

A board report template may also change or improve over time to meet the specific needs of the board of directors. These changes or improvements might include:

How long is a report to the board of directors?

Effective board reports are engaging and easy to understand. The length of a board report can vary depending on the reports focus, the amount of information included, the amount time the report covers and the boards preferences. The written content for a board report should be concise and avoid redundancies. A board report in a text format prioritizes brevity while still including all the information necessary. A board report in a presentation format might be longer than a board report in text format because of added visuals, but it should still be as brief as possible.

FAQ

How do you write a CEO report to the board?

The CEO Report template should cover all the main components, such as:
  1. Key metrics (e.g. customer, financial and production)
  2. Key discussions and decisions for the upcoming meeting (should marry in with the agenda)
  3. Top of Mind for CEO- what’s keeping them awake at night.
  4. Big Wins & Learnings.

What information might be required in reports to managers and to the board?

Board reports should reflect policy requirements, risk appetite, available resources and operating structure. In all companies, reports should be broken down by type of risk and management activity. They should address accountability and identify actual performance against relevant benchmarks and policy guidelines.

How do you write a committee report?

How to Write a Committee Report
  1. Make Detailed Notes at the Committee Meeting. Bring a pen and paper or a laptop with you to your committee meeting. …
  2. Begin with a Cover Page. …
  3. Give Detail Information About Matters Discussed. …
  4. Proofread the Committee Meeting Report. …
  5. Circulate Copies of the Committee Meeting Report.

How do you write an executive summary for a board of directors?

How to Write a Compelling Executive Summary
  1. Describe a problem, need or goal. Underneath the words “EXECUTIVE SUMMARY” explain in one or two sentences (at most) why a decision is needed. …
  2. Describe the desired outcome. …
  3. Describe your proposed solution. …
  4. Explain how you’ll overcome risks. …
  5. Ask for the decision you want made.

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