Write better board papers

with Mary Morel, a board-paper specialist

What makes board papers difficult to write is knowing what to put in and what to leave out. Often you are writing about complex topics that the directors don't know much about.

They want concise, yet complete, information that gives them the big picture. If you give them too much detail, some of them may delve into it and behave like management, and others will be confused. You have to find the right balance.

After this course, you'll be more confident about your writing and will no longer spend hours writing and rewriting papers.

This course is suitable for anyone who writes board and committee papers. It is also used by organisations to support in-house training.

As part of this course, you will receive a copy of Mary Morel's book, Write to Govern: How to write effective board papers.

Write better board papers

What you'll learn

  • The board and its role

    To write effective board papers, you need to understand the role of the board. In this course, you'll gain an understanding of the board's role and its writing requirements.

    You'll listen to interviews with directors and governance experts, read information about the board and do activities to consolidate what you've learnt.

  • Templates

    You'll learn about the importance of templates to help you structure your writing for your audience. Templates also provide consistency.

    Many people find summaries hard to write and tend to write introductions rather than summaries. You'll learn techniques to help you write succinct summaries.

  • How to write board papers

    Board papers must be concise. Many organisations today recommend that papers are two pages long with attachments no longer than five pages. That's tough!

    The key to writing effective board papers is to be clear about your key messages, structure your paper well and write simply and clearly.

Course curriculum

  • 1
    Introduction
    • Welcome
  • 2
    Boards and committees
    • What you will learn in this section
    • The board's role
    • A chair's expectations of board papers (audio)
    • A director's expectations of board papers (audio)
    • A director's view on managing the blur (audio)
    • Qualities of effective board papers (video)
    • Qualities of effective board papers (activity)
  • 3
    Planning and processes
    • What you will learn in this section
    • A governance specialist's view on processes (audio)
    • Pre-writing checklist
    • PACK (activity)
    • Principles of storylining (audio)
  • 4
    Templates
    • What you will learn in this section
    • Taming templates (video)
    • Draft templates and guidelines
    • Purpose statements
    • Recommendations (video)
    • How to write recommendations
    • Recommendations (activity)
    • How to write a summary (video)
    • How to write a summary
    • Background
  • 5
    Writing about strategy, risks and finances
    • What you will learn in this section
    • Strategy
    • Writing about strategy (audio)
    • A risk specialist's views on risk (audio)
    • Risk management
    • Writing about risk
    • Writing risk commentary (activity)
    • A CEO's views on financial information (audio)
    • Writing about financial information
  • 6
    Writing skills
    • What you will learn in this section
    • How people read (audio)
    • Structuring principles
    • Formatting principles
    • Write well
    • Write well (activity)
    • Before and after example (activity)
  • 7
    Reviewing, rewriting and editing
    • What you will learn in this section
    • Reviewing, rewriting and editing
    • Checklist
  • 8
    Presenting to the board
    • What you will learn in this section
    • Presenting to the board (audio)
    • Presenting tips
  • 9
    A case study with activities
    • Office relocation PACK
    • Office relocation summary
    • Structure and coherence (flow)
  • 10
    Transcripts
    • Transcripts
  • 11
    Evaluation and next steps
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