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Keys to Writing Effective Board Decision Papers

Board decision papers provide directors with the information and information they require to understand, form, and make decisions which will determine the fate of an organization. They can also cause controversy and legal action if they are not written properly or contain erroneous or insufficient data. It is hard to overstate the importance of quality decision documents.

But what are the keys to writing effective board papers? Managing the flow of information is crucial. This includes managing the volume of information that is provided to boards, as well as the manner the information is presented. Board papers should be concise and complete, while delivering a clear call-to-action.

The task for writers is to avoid the temptation to add excessive detail in a paper. This could eat up valuable board-time and distract from the overall message of the paper. Another challenge is to write the paper in a way that is easily understood by everyone on the board. This is especially true for those who have little or no experience with the subject matter covered by the paper. A formal board paper process with clear guidelines and an approach to examining the papers prior to being handed out, can be very beneficial.

It is important that all board members can access the information in the board's documents. This is especially important when the board is comprised of members with different backgrounds, for instance, those in marketing and finance. Offering a glossary of terms and acronyms is also beneficial. It is also helpful to receive feedback from peers as well as comments on the paper. This helps new eyes to look over the papers and identify any ambiguity.

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