Your board may choose to hold a virtual board meeting for a wide variety of reasons, whether because board members are geographically spread out, or to conserve travel costs. Regardless of the reasoning, you need to take steps to make sure the meeting is as productive as possible. Below are seven tips you can use to ensure that your next virtual board meeting is as successful as it can be.
The choice of your meeting time is important, especially if attendees are located in multiple time zones. Make sure that the meeting time you choose is respectful of everyone’s lunch hours and break times. If it is impossible to accommodate everyone’s schedules, do your best to make the meeting easily accessible to as many people as possible. Alternatively, you can also schedule two meeting times so that everyone can attend. If you are having a hard time coordinating all the board member schedules, try a digital scheduling tool to help make it easier.
In order to keep your meeting focused and on track at all times, create a clear agenda. If possible, involve meeting participants in the creation of the agenda so you can be sure all relevant issues are covered. Distribute copies of the agenda to all participants so they can review it before the meeting begins and follow along as the meeting progresses. This is especially important for a virtual board meeting, because people need extra material to help follow along. Try to distribute the prep materials a week before the meeting, so board members have a chance to review.
Like an in-person meeting, any virtual meeting should follow its set schedule as closely as possible. Be sure that you begin the meeting on time, and do your best to keep everyone on task. Follow the agenda as carefully as you can to ensure that the meeting is completed at the appointed time. Keeping your meeting on schedule will help your participants to remain more engaged throughout the process. Sometimes remote meetings feel less formal. By keeping focused and starting precisely on time, you establish an expectation of professionalism and seriousness.
It is possible to run a virtual meeting without the use of video. However, your meetings will be more successful if you make use of this technology. When you add video to your virtual meetings, all participants are able to see one another and make stronger connections. Adding video also ensures that you don’t miss important nonverbal communication, which can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the meeting. Watch for body language of disagreement, boredom, impatience, or enthusiasm that can’t be detected in just a phone call.
When running a virtual board meeting, one of the primary challenges involves keeping everyone engaged in the meeting. Instead of asking meeting participants to wait until the end of the meeting to ask questions or make comments, encourage them to interact with the speaker and one another throughout the meeting. Stop periodically to check in with other remote attendees. You might pause after each main meeting topic and ask everyone to offer their thoughts.
Another way to make sure no one loses interest in the meeting is to keep the momentum going. Don’t allow the discussion to lag or stall on an unimportant topic. It is also a good idea to use more slides than you would normally use for an in-person meeting, as this can speed up the meeting’s pace. Make sure the meeting is moving along fast enough that remote attendees don’t start checking their phones or losing interest. Try to mix up the people talking during the meeting so that everyone is interested in who is presenting next.
Once your meeting has ended, give all participants an opportunity to provide feedback. If possible, allow participants to provide this feedback anonymously so they can feel free to speak openly. Read all suggestions provided and consider them as you schedule and plan meetings in the future.
Virtual board meetings present unique challenges. However, by following the tips above, you can facilitate a productive meeting in a virtual setting.
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