How to Write Well-Prepared Board Decision Papers

Boards can use decision papers to gather information to interpret, formulate and take decisions that will shape the future of a business. If they are not prepared properly, they can be overwhelming in both detail and length, resulting in poor decision making.

The key to writing a successful board paper is to be short and concise. Directors usually have a limited time to read your documents and they also might not have the same information you do so it’s important to weed out excessive operational details, and rely on simple arguments instead of lengthy explanations, and use only facts rather than opinions.

A well-structured decision paper begins with the background to the issue that requires the decision, and then guides directors through the argument, focusing on links to strategy, risks and financial information. This structure is similar to a traditional story and helps directors comprehend your perspective.

It is also important to include a brief description of any current issues that might be connected to the proposal. This section is a vital part of a decision paper and gives directors the confidence that the information they are reading is correct and up-to-date. Before the meeting it is recommended to hold a meeting with the board members that will be reviewing the document to ensure all the information and aspects are considered. This will help you determine what information must be included and, if needed discuss with the board members possible outcomes or options.

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