Why do we think that a board meeting agenda always has to look the same? Calls to order, reports, old business, and lastly, new business is the typical order. Have you noticed that by the time you get to new business everyone is tired and is ready to go home? Do you sometimes find that discussion dies because people are watching the clock?
Shake it up! Turn your meeting agenda upside down. The agenda police will not burst through the door to demand that you do things the same old way. It’s not even a radical thing to do. Why do we treat it that way? Here are some benefits of turning your agenda upside down that you might not expect. Your board members will thank you for planning a more engaging, more energized meeting.
When you have something important to talk about, put it first on the agenda. Approve your consent agenda, and then dive into that important discussion. It can energize the group to get started with an important topic. It’s easier to generate new ideas when board members’ minds are fresh and excited to talk about something interesting.
You may also notice that members who sometimes come late to meetings will start arriving on time because they fear that they might miss something more exciting than committee reports and the same old problems. You will also find that the discussion is more robust because there is time for people to express their opinions. Often, those committee reports and old business have a way of eating up the majority of the meeting time. It’s important to build in time to map out new ideas and hear several points of view.
The best thing about turning the board meeting agenda upside down is that you can take some action. Too often we spend our time rehashing the same old problems. Sometimes new business items are so far down the agenda that a quorum isn’t even present for a decision. These potentially game-changing ideas get left for the next meeting—or the next, or the one after that. Who wants to spend every meeting going over old material?
When you move an important item to the top, your members will take note. Make sure they know that this is a vital discussion and you need their best thinking and good solutions. It’s a good way to invigorate your board and you may find that this is the way you want your agenda to operate for the future.
Don’t let your agenda control you. Move things around. Your agenda template should allow some flexibility in how you arrange your meetings. Be brave! Be a rebel! Let us know if you find that it makes a positive difference in your next meeting.