Getting Started


What is an Advisory Board?

An Advisory Board is typically a small group of carefully selected individuals, such as experts within a certain field or important customers, who are brought together to discuss pre-defined issues and answer specific questions for the purpose of providing insight and advice to a company or organization confronted with a particular challenge.

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How is an Advisory Board different from a focus group?

A focus group more typically tests products and concepts whereas an Advisory Board meeting is in-depth, highly interactive, and focused on major issues, concerns, or important pending decisions. An Advisory Board brings together a select and distinguished group of individuals, often leading experts in the field, who agree to assist a company by participating in an intensive meeting of 1 or 2 days.

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Why do companies have Advisory Boards?

There are as many reasons for companies to have Advisory Boards as there are companies. The common denominator is that all companies face important and critical decisions for which senior management recognizes the need to gain a broader perspective from outside the organization. External advisors can objectively assess the specific factors and dynamics, and provide insight and advice to ensure the best decision possible. Without input from such an Advisory Board, companies are exposed to the risk of insular thinking and decision-making. Successful business people know that Advisory Boards are indispensable to informing decisions and producing superior outcomes.

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Who do companies invite to Advisory Board Meetings?

The composition of an Advisory Board is determined by the particular challenge confronting a company. In certain instances, the advisors are key customers, a competitor's key customers, or end users of the company's products/services. For companies and organizations with other needs, the Board can be comprised of distinguished experts in the field, industry thought leaders, top academics, and professional consultants. Certain Advisory Boards are a cross-section of a company's key stakeholders. Advisors can be local, national or international. The make-up of an Advisory Board is as varied as the number of Advisory Boards.

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Why do individuals accept to be on an Advisory Board?

Many Advisory Board invitees regularly participate in such meetings, and require little persuasion. Others are flattered to be professionally acknowledged by the invitation, while some are attracted by the prestige of the company or the project. There are also those who genuinely wish to be of assistance since they have expert knowledge within the particular field. Many welcome the opportunity to join with other colleagues as members of an Advisory Board. However, the decision of almost all invitees is also influenced by the fee or honorarium that is being offered, the meeting location, any leisure activities being planned, and whether spouses can attend.

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What is the optimal number of Advisory Board Meeting participants?

The optimal number typically ranges between a minimum critical mass of 5-6 participants, to a maximum of approximately 15, beyond which the meeting can be unwieldy with insufficient time for each advisor to properly contribute. However, despite the above, Advisory Board Meetings can extend to 20 or more participants, but must rely heavily on multiple Breakout Sessions. When input from greater numbers of advisors is required, companies usually consider conducting a series of replicated meetings, each with different participants.

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How do companies find the right advisors?

Companies frequently know some or all of the advisors they would like to invite, but in many cases, they rely on the services of a company such as Nexus to first create a preferred profile, and through research, identify potential advisors based on several key criteria. "A" and "B" lists are created, and Nexus is often requested to extend the invitation on behalf of the company. This can be done for any group of advisors, and on a local to global level.

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What is the best location for an Advisory Board Meeting?

Some Advisory Board Meetings take place at the client's head office, however, the majority of meetings take place at hotel venues or executive conference centers that offer full business and catering facilities. The caliber of the hotel or conference center is at the client's discretion, and is usually commensurate with the caliber of the advisors and the importance of the meeting.

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What is the typical length of an Advisory Board Meeting?

Advisory Board Meetings can be conducted in as few as 4 hours, but the vast majority are for at least one day, with many extending to another half or even full second day. This is determined by many factors including distance the advisors have to travel, the scope of the agenda, and the company's wish to have more time with the advisors to form closer relationships.

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What fee or other form of compensation is typically paid to participants?

A common approach to determining the appropriate level of compensation is to consider the  "fair market value" of the time the Advisor will dedicate to the Board. In general, fair market value represents what the the Advisor could reasonably charge for their time to an interested third party in the absence of any conflict of interest. Fees can range from $500 to several thousand dollars per day.

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Should Advisory Board participants sign a contract and/or non-disclosure agreement?

It is recommended that Advisory Board participants always sign a non-disclosure agreement and formal Contract that specifies the scope of work and compensation. This is a protection for both the company and the advisors.

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Who typically moderates an Advisory Board Meeting?

Advisory Board Meetings are most often moderated by a professional moderator/facilitator, however, the proceedings can also be directed by a company official or appointed Chairperson from among the Advisory Board participants.

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How much lead-time is needed to organize an Advisory Board Meeting?

The more time allotted, the better. A practical rule-of-thumb is 3-4 months to ensure the availability of the best candidates. However, Advisory Board Meetings can also be organized in less time, including on short-term notice, depending on the client's needs.

What services can be expected from Advisory Board participants?

Services range from participation during the meeting to other pre- and post-meeting obligations. These can include time spent on reading pre-meeting materials, completing pre-meeting surveys, collaborating on post-meeting projects such as a "Position Paper" or further research, or any number of other tasks agreed to in advance.

How do company officials participate in an Advisory Board meeting?

Company officials can attend strictly as observers, or they can take an active role in making presentations, posing questions, and participating fully in discussions. This is often determined by the objectives the company wishes to achieve from the meeting.

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Is leisure time scheduled for advisors and company participants during an Advisory Board Meeting?

Many clients choose to offer leisure activities to their Advisory Board participants. This is most common when a meeting is taking place over two days, with activities scheduled for one or both afternoons. Such activities are seen as opportunities for company officials to form closer relationships with the advisors. More typical activities include golf, tennis, skiing, and museum tours, while more elaborate activities can range from hot air ballooning, deep-sea fishing, or wine-tastings. It depends on the company's goals, policies, and budget.

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