Board meeting planning sounds like such a simple thing. Surprisingly, it is quite difficult to do well. Do you need a few ideas to perk up your board meetings and keep them on track? Most nonprofits do. Read the following six tips for superior meeting planning.
- Have an effective roadmap. First, create an effective agenda. Distribute the agenda at least a week before the meeting. Supply enough time ahead of the meeting to encourage people to come prepared. Include names of board members to lead various parts of the agenda, to keep everyone engaged. With each item, identify the issue, the information available to address it, the steps to take, and who’s in charge. With each item, who will do what, by when? Then, place time limits right into the meeting agenda. Assign a start and finish time for each item. This way the board knows when it’s running behind, and strives to avoid excessive banter and tangents.
- Take advanced planning seriously. Advanced planning gives board members what they need to handle meeting time wisely, for the benefit of everyone present. Send any relevant reports to the members in advance. Quite simply, the meeting is not the time to receive reports and findings. Prepare your board for the meeting by sending any reports, along with the agenda, before the scheduled meeting, when they are motivated to read the materials. Why is this motivational? Board members who come ready to knowledgeably contribute to a meeting are its most influential participants. They vote with confidence, anticipating an informed outcome, as they use the meeting to discuss information that’s already familiar. This keeps the chairperson from having to explain background materials. And it keeps the discussion tight, informed, and focused. RELATED: 6 Tips for Perfect Board Meeting Preparation
- Begin with verve. Consider having a brief (less than two minutes) audio-visual clip that starts the meeting off on an uplifting note. Set the stage for a gathering by showing participants how their commitment makes a difference in the community. Camaraderie is the keynote for everything to follow. Do be prepared for any tech issues that can arise. Arrive early to turn things on. Have a backup means of delivering any AV-supported materials, or have a tech guru at the ready. Invite guest collaborators from allied groups to address your board from time to time. Keep things lively. Keep the community-oriented mission visible. RELATED: Fierce Conversations and Healthy Dissent in the Board Room
- Stay on track. Everybody’s time is valuable. Everyone should safely assume the meeting will conclude at the promised time. This one factor typically makes the difference between a meeting that’s a dreaded chore, and one that energizes board members and makes them feel ready to act. What about the board member who draws out the discussion too long or derails the meeting with tangential thoughts and questions? This is where the well-designed agenda, allocating time to each item, pays off. If discussion on a given item overruns its set time, the chair should note that the group needs to tighten all subsequent items’ time limits. Then, the meeting will stop at the planned finish time after every item gets its fair share of the board’s attention. If an item absolutely won’t be reined in, consider whether it’s best suited for in-depth attention through the formation of a subcommittee.
- Banish distractions. Silence and tuck phones away. Is a meal involved? Have it served first, and be sure coffee and tea are at hand. Then, meet without the need for doors to open and shut. This doesn’t mean nobody should move. Encourage stretching and micro-breaks. Movement is healthful. For a focused meeting, convening remotely can be surprisingly effective. Few people will go too far on tangents in a video conference.
- Select the right tools for the task. Consider software to help with board meeting planning. There are plenty of scheduling tools out there, like Doodle. Documents can be shared through Dropbox or email. Boardable has combined all these needs in our board management software, too. Read about Board Meeting Prep Tools from Boardable for even more planning ideas.
Best of luck with your superior meeting planning endeavors! Using these simple tips will help take your next board meeting from meandering to magical.
Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.
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