Guest blog: How to decode the mysterious language of the boardroom

May 20th '19

There can be an overwhelming amount of jargon and terminology surrounding board and business meetings.

Whether it’s a board or committee meeting, the process of inviting people, planning and preparation, and the running of the meeting itself all have their own rules. And alongside these rules sit a wealth of acronyms and specific terms that govern the way meetings are run and managed.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the world of board meetings and committees or have been involved in attending or organising them for years – it can be a challenge to learn and remember all the terms used.

Boards, AGMs, committees – all of these can have varying degrees of formality, which can govern the amount of specific terms, acronyms and other jargon used.

Here we look at why board and other meetings can be such a source of confusing vocabulary, and share our Board and Business Meeting Glossary, to help you decode the often-mysterious language of the boardroom.

Why are some areas hotbeds of jargon?

Some activities, issues and sectors seem to attract and create more acronyms and terminology than others.

The processes and procedures that surround the organisation of formal business meetings are a prime example of something that is mired in jargon. Maybe it’s the formality of the setting – with corporate and governance protocols demanding that everything is done properly.

Decisions have to be formally debated and documented; board papers and minutes need to follow certain conventions; documentation should be stored and archived according to specific rules. Whatever sector you work in, this is best practice in terms of corporate governance.

If you work in a regulated industry, running and documenting meetings according to certain rules may not be just best practice, but a regulatory requirement.

The strict rules around formal meetings are designed to drive good corporate governance; to ensure that board papers and minutes are produced to consistent quality levels – important in giving your board members the information they need; to make sure that decisions are robust and robustly documented.

All well and good – but the downside can be rather impenetrable vocabulary.

Why is it so important to understand meeting terminology?

  • It helps everyone to participate fully

If you can’t converse in the language being used around you, or even understand what the terms used mean, you cannot play a full role in the meeting. This holds true for formal AGMs and board meetings, but also for committees or smaller meetings.

Any business gathering needs diversity. A diverse range of viewpoints enables you to have more informed debates and come to decisions that reflect your wider organisation and customer base. Giving everyone the skills to participate fully in the meeting is vital to this.

  • It ensures that meetings are run properly

If attendees don’t understand the terms and phrases that govern the way the meeting is run, there’s every chance that they won’t be correctly adhered to.

Recent reviews of board performance have suggested that boards are failing when it comes to compliance and corporate culture. Making sure meetings are run well is a key component here, and ensuring everyone involved is familiar with meeting terminology is, in turn, vital to that. Read more here on strategies for success in running effective meetings.

Brush up on your own knowledge – download our free glossary

Recognising that meetings have their own mysterious language – and one that can be counter-productive to effective, efficient and compliant meetings – we have produced our own Board and Business Meeting Glossary.

The glossary aims to give anyone involved in business meetings – company secretaries, executives and board members, committee members, PAs – a one-stop reference covering many of the terms and phrases used.

You can download a free copy from Simplifie’s resource library.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

Source: Simplifie

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