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Virtual Board Meetings: A Guide to Maintaining Efficiency

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Board members often volunteer their energy and take time out of their busy schedules to further your organization’s work. Naturally, you’ll need to accommodate their professional and personal schedules at times, and an increasingly popular way to do that is through virtual board meetings.

Technology consistently brings us many innovative tools and offers extended functionality, including the ability to attend meetings remotely. As with any product, early virtual meeting tools weren’t perfect, but over time, programmers learned how to design the necessary features and provide enough functionality to pull these gatherings off without a hitch.

The option to go remote for any type of organization’s board—whether mission-driven or for-profit—can help to optimize the experience for everyone involved.

No matter your reason for going digital, the only way to truly make the most of this offering is to take a targeted approach and invest in the right remote board meeting tools. To help, this guide will take a deep dive into the subject, providing you with everything you need to know to maximize productivity and engagement during your virtual board meetings:

Here at Boardable, we work with all types of boards, including those at nonprofits, corporations, and everything in between. Boards face unique challenges that can’t typically be resolved with generic solutions, and using our direct experience, we’re confident you’ll be able to set your virtual board meetings up for success. Let’s dive in!

Let’s start off with a basic definition of virtual board meetings.

What is a Virtual Board Meeting?

Virtual board meetings allow each board director to attend regularly scheduled meetings from their home, an office, or wherever they choose. Instead of reviewing notes after the fact, board members use audio and video conferencing tools to join remotely. Remote attendees must use a computer or other device with an internet connection to join, so they can listen to presentations and add their own insightful ideas to the conversation.

For a fully digital meeting, all board members attend virtually. Alternatively, boards can take a hybrid approach, where some board members are physically present while others join online. Either way, the ability to go remote represents a wealth of opportunities for mission-driven organizations and corporate boards.

Both corporate and organizational boards experience several benefits from hosting virtual board meetings.

The Benefits of Virtual Board Meetings

Your board may choose to hold a virtual board meeting for a wide variety of reasons, whether it’s due to travel expenses, time constraints, or any underlying health concerns. Let’s dive a little deeper into the range of benefits your board may experience when testing out remote board meetings.

The primary benefits of virtual board meetings include increased attendance, greater diversity, and enhanced governance.

Increased Attendance

If you’re struggling to meet quorum, virtual board meetings might just be your catchall solution! Going remote boosts accessibility and ensures as many board members as possible can make it to the meeting. At the very least, having the option increases the likelihood of participation. Plus, you’ll eliminate travel time and expenses, making attendees much more willing to join.

One survey found that going remote saves workers an average of 40 minutes daily. Unsurprisingly, 79% of respondents indicated that reduced commute time is also one of the top reasons they prefer remote work. (Source: Owl Labs)

This statistics graphic explains that virtual board meetings cut down on commute time tremendously.

Remember, your board members lead busy professional and personal lives. Those with divergent work schedules will value the convenience of online collaboration. When you value their time and allow them to attend remotely, they’ll likely take notice and appreciate your efforts.

In short, expecting your board to make the commute to your office can limit your potential participant pool. Virtual board meetings expand it.

Greater Board Member Diversity

Remote board meetings open the door to a more diverse board. To start, they can keep your board socially and geographically diverse.

With the capacity for people from other parts of the country (or even the world) to attend, your board can pursue enhanced diversity. New perspectives will provide powerful insights, which can ultimately help you think outside of the box and make more well-rounded decisions.

Not only can you expand to those who are physically distant, but with additional audio and video capabilities, attendees with varying abilities (whether physical, visual, or so on) can still participate in the virtual board meeting. This allows for board members with all types of accessibility needs to join in the conversation.

    Enhanced Nonprofit Governance

    Corporations and mission-driven organizations rely on digital meetings to make time-sensitive decisions and communicate regularly. With the right tools in place, your board leaders can exercise greater control over meetings and maintain focus in the boardroom, directly supporting strong and capable governance of the company or organization.

    Board leadership will largely benefit from:

    • The ongoing availability of a secure online environment to keep in touch without having to coordinate in-person meetings.
    • A centralized platform to record meetings and share discussions and data.

    Today’s virtual board meeting software landscape offers an abundance of tools that organizations can use to their advantage to further their work. From chat features to minutes-taking tools, meetings will be much simpler to plan and execute, allowing more time to strategize and hold insightful conversations.


    Organizations and corporate boards also face several challenges with remote board meetings.

    The Challenges of Remote Board Meetings

    As with any technology-based solutions, there are a few setbacks to going remote. Going into the virtual board meeting world, it’s important to be familiar with these challenges so you can be one step ahead. Let’s take a deep dive into a few key obstacles.

    Some of the challenges of virtual board meetings include security issues, reduced engagement, and technological reliance.

    Information Security Issues

    All boards have private discussions regarding your organization’s strategies and financial stability. Unfortunately in the case of virtual board meetings, technology naturally poses a risk to proprietary and confidential information. In turn, board members may be reluctant to share sensitive information or discuss controversial issues if there is an underlying risk of a breach.

    Because of this, you’ll want to ensure your organization’s security protocols are current and take pressing risk factors into account. Mitigate security vulnerabilities further by ensuring your virtual board meeting software and any other third-party software is fully secure so transmitted information will stay protected. Your platform should employ Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) ​certification to encrypt all browser data. Further, administrators should be able to control which users have access to various pieces of content.

    By selecting a fully protected platform, your board can safely transmit documents and have confidential discussions without worry.

    Reduced Engagement

    Some of the nuances of interaction can be lost during remote board meetings due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. A virtual board meeting that includes members who passively listen won’t help you accomplish your goals.

    To be effective, board members need to participate wholeheartedly and share their insights with the group. Additionally, when you’re taking a hybrid approach and only a handful of attendees are remote, those who phone into meetings usually only listen and vote on motions, which can lead to feelings of exclusion.

    The short and simple solution is to incorporate video and encourage participation. This will add that much-needed face-to-face element and serve as a reminder to in-person attendees that remote participants are still part of the conversation. We’ll explore some additional steps to help combat disengagement during your virtual board meetings below.

    RELATED: Need help boosting engagement both in and out of the virtual boardroom? Check out our guide to board engagement to learn actionable tips that work for all types of boards.

    Technological Reliance

    Adopting new technology often comes with unique hurdles. With virtual board meetings in particular, organizers have to be hyper-aware of the specific technological requirements, ensuring that board leadership and members have access to sufficient technology to attend. Bear in mind that all members may not have adequate technical proficiency and may need a bit of extra guidance as well.

    Overcome any learning curves by supplying board members with user-friendly virtual board meeting tools that make the switch to digital as seamless as possible.

    As with any technological tool, it’s a good idea to have someone on your team test it out first. Some boards choose to designate an audio-visual point person in the meeting to help others troubleshoot any hiccups.

    For your less-tech-savvy attendees, consider providing sufficient instructions for joining and participating in polls and discussions. Otherwise, you’ll risk wasting everyone’s time as you address technology-related issues during the virtual board meeting itself.

    Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when hosting remote board meetings.

    How to Run an Effective Virtual Board Meeting

    Since virtual board meetings differ from their in-person counterparts, there are several specific details you’ll need to adjust to maximize engagement and productivity. Let’s explore some actionable steps every executive director, CEO, and other board leadership can use to effectively manage remote meetings.

    This graphic explains several tips for enhancing virtual board meetings, which we'll discuss below.

    Ask Whether Your Organization Allows Virtual Meetings.

    First and foremost, you’ll want to be sure that you can legally conduct virtual board meetings. Some mission-driven organizations and corporations specifically don’t allow these meetings in their internal bylaws, and sometimes state laws prohibit them entirely. You’ll need to check these two separate sets of regulations before spending the time setting up a virtual board meeting:

    1. Internal regulations. Review the terms of your board governance. If your governance specifically allows for virtual or remote board meetings, you can move forward. If it does not specifically mention virtual board meetings, you’ll want to first speak with your board chair and legal counsel to understand any ambiguous rules.
    2. The laws of your state and location. There may be specific state or regional rules regarding virtual participation in a mission-driven organization or corporations’ meetings. Before going remote, review any legal ramifications regarding digital gatherings. It’s important to note that most states do allow virtual board meetings for organizations.

    While you’ll likely be permitted to make the shift to virtual meetings, checking your internal rules and local regulations will allow your board to move forward with confidence that you’re following all procedures and operating in an ethical manner.

    Set an Appropriate Meeting Time.

    One major factor in effective virtual board meetings is selecting an appropriate meeting time.

    As with any effective meeting, selecting the right time is crucial, 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.

    While it might not be possible to accommodate everyone’s schedules, do your best to make your remote board meeting easily accessible to as many people as possible. If there is a strong divide, you may determine that setting two separate meeting times is the most appropriate solution.

    PRO TIP: If you’re having a difficult time coordinating everyone’s schedules by hand, employ the help of a digital scheduling tool to streamline the decision-making process.

    Develop a Clear Agenda.

    A strong agenda is the foundation of any effective remote board meeting.

    It’s always important to make sure that every attendee can easily track topics and discussions, but with remote attendees, this is even more critical. To keep your meeting focused and on track at all times, create a clear, dynamic agenda that’s accessible on any device with an intuitive mobile interface or a dedicated app.

    Here are some actionable suggestions for developing strong agendas that will fully engage participants:

    • Involve participants in the creation of the agenda. This way, you can be sure all relevant topics are covered. Plus, this is a fantastic way to boost board member engagement from the get-go as they feel as if their opinions are being heard.

    • Keep your remote board meeting focused and on schedule. Like an in-person meeting, any virtual meeting should follow a set schedule as closely as possible. Be sure to start and end on time, and adhere to each item’s allotted time restrictions.

    • Distribute copies of the agenda and relevant documents a week in advance. This allows board members to come prepared with insightful points and provocative questions to your virtual board meetings. When everyone isn’t in the same room, it’s extra important that all attendees are on the same page.

    Sometimes, remote meetings feel less formal. By developing and sticking to a strong agenda, you’ll establish an expectation of professionalism and seriousness. Be sure to have your agenda pulled up within your virtual meeting platform to encourage everyone to follow along, boosting attentiveness and productivity.

    RELATED: Make the most your team’s time together and create your own dynamic virtual board meeting agendas by following our complete agenda guide!

    Use Video Conferencing Tools.

    Video conferencing adds that all-important face-to-face aspect that virtual board meetings need.

    It is possible to host a virtual board meeting without using video. However, your meetings will be much more successful and interactive with video conferencing tools.

    Surveys have found that 87% of team members say they feel more connected and involved with teams and projects when using video conferencing. Another 87% say that video conferencing reduces the time required to complete projects or tasks too. (Source: GetVoIP’s Video Conferencing Statistics)

    For one, all participants will be able to see one another, building stronger connections. Adding video also ensures that participants don’t overlook important nonverbal cues. Specifically, watch for body language that indicates disagreement, boredom, impatience, or enthusiasm (all of which are challenging to detect with just a phone call). After all, most experts agree that at least 70% of all communication is nonverbal.

    As you get started with video conferencing tools, share these best practices with attendees:

    • Test your Wi-Fi connection as well as video and audio equipment prior to joining the call.

    • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.

    • Raise your hand or send a message in the chat to indicate that you have input or a question.

    • Be camera-ready with proper attire.

    • Close any unnecessary tabs to eliminate external distractions.

    • Send a message in the chat when you have to step away so participation is properly recorded in the minutes.

    When you have a completely remote board meeting, good etiquette is more important than ever. By laying down the groundwork upfront, everyone will be more mindful as you continue hosting virtual board meetings.

    Set a Minimum Requirement for In-Person Attendance.

    To make up for any missing elements in virtual board meetings, be sure to set a minimum attendance requirement for in-person meetings.

    Some corporations and mission-driven organizations that allow call-ins report that in-person attendance drops. This can directly impact the dynamic of the group if people get into the routine of phoning in.

    To avoid this, set a minimum requirement for in-person attendance, especially if you intend for hybrid meetings to be a regular practice. Have a frank discussion with your board that makes it clear that this is not an alternative to being present at meetings on a regular basis without just cause.

    Regardless of your remote board meeting policies, try to have a physical meeting on a regular basis. Even if it is just a yearly board retreat, rapport and engagement will improve with an occasional face-to-face meeting. In between live meetings, help everyone stay connected with photos, mission moments, discussions, and other communications—both formal and casual.

    There’s no reason why a remote board can’t be a tight-knit board! It just takes some planning and intentionality.

    Encourage Interaction.

    Be sure to promote a spirit of collaboration during your virtual board meetings.

    When running a virtual board meeting, one of the primary challenges involves keeping everyone engaged in the conversation. So that you can effectively keep everyone invested, try out some of these tactics:

    • Make sure EVERYONE speaks at the beginning of the meeting. This establishes a culture of collaboration from the very start. Plus, it serves as a great reminder for who all is present. Some secretaries accomplish this by calling roll and having each individual announce they’re in attendance. Alternatively, try going around the virtual boardroom and encouraging everyone to participate in an icebreaker (like saying something positive that happened that week).

    • Encourage meeting participants to make comments and ask questions throughout the meeting. Asking participants to wait until the end of the virtual board meeting may cause them to forget, even if their comments could have sparked a collaborative discussion. Additionally, if you’ve had a particularly long meeting, they’ll likely hold their questions and comments in an effort to end the meeting and log off.

    • Periodically check in with remote attendees. It can be difficult to interject and hop into a discussion from a remote location. You might consider pausing after each main meeting topic and asking everyone to offer their thoughts.

    • Don’t allow the discussion to lag or stall. Combat this by assigning times to each agenda item. Additionally, consider using more slides than you normally would for an in-person meeting to speed up the pace.

    Remember, your board members serve your organization because you value their insights. Remote members will be much more likely to stay engaged and involved if you make a proactive effort to include them. If they’re left to be passive observers, they’ll likely tune out altogether.

    Ask for Feedback.

    Feedback will ensure you host the best possible virtual board meetings.

    Once your remote board meeting has ended, give all participants an opportunity to provide feedback. Whether it’s for serious decision-making or for something more lighthearted like a t-shirt design for an upcoming virtual event, this is a major opportunity to enhance the board member experience. Overall, polling offers as much potential to connect personally as it does to make important decisions.

    If possible, allow participants to provide this feedback anonymously using your polling tools so that they feel free to speak openly and honestly. Read all suggestions provided and consider them as you continue to schedule and plan virtual board meetings. By implementing the suggestions you receive, you’ll convey that you value board members’ input, which can result in positive relationships and more impactful terms.


    Virtual board meeting software will streamline the planning process and improve your meetings altogether.

    How Virtual Board Meeting Software Can Help

    The only way to fully enhance governance is by supplying your board with leading-edge tools for decision-making and record-keeping. Luckily, Boardable’s got you covered. We offer an end-to-end solution for hosting virtual board meetings called Spotlight. It’s designed specifically to meet the needs of for-profit and nonprofit boards. Best of all, it’s affordable for any corporation or mission-driven organization.

    Let’s dive into the key features that Boardable Spotlight our powerful virtual board meeting software offers boards just like yours!

    EASILY INVITE BOARD MEMBERS TO JOIN.

    Boardable Spotlight makes it simple to start planning and hosting your own virtual board meetings! Simply invite everyone to the meeting in your organization’s Boardable account. Invitees will gain instant access to all meeting details. In the Meeting Center, they’ll be able to view the time, date, and corresponding documents in one central location.

    With Spotlight, attendees don’t need a link, a password, a separate app, or anything else to join your virtual board meeting. All they have to do is click “Join Meeting” and they’ll instantly join the virtual boardroom.

    Board members can join your virtual board meetings with the click of a button.

    FACILITATE YOUR VIRTUAL BOARD MEETINGS.

    After joining a call in Boardable Spotlight, attendees can view all the meeting documents, raise a hand to speak, screen share, view meeting details, and manage their microphone and camera. They’ll have access to everything they need all within one screen—no need to shuffle through several tabs to access the right information and tools:

    Boardable's Spotlight feature provides everything you need to run your virtual board meetings within one screen.

    Taking a look at the screenshot above, notice the row of icons on the left. Your attendees can navigate through each of these to:

    • Access the meeting agenda
    • Take meeting minutes live from the agenda
    • Explore any other attached meeting documents
    • Send messages in the chat
    • View meeting details
    • Access dial-in information

    Spotlight gives you access to all the virtual board meeting tools your team needs.

    GAIN ACCESS TO BOARDABLE’S FULL FUNCTIONALITY.

    To boost collaboration, Boardable goes above and beyond in its functionality. With our platform, you’ll have access to all of our tools, helping you pull off virtual board meetings without a hitch. You’ll be able to:

    • Include polls to conduct voting or decision-making. Create polls with just a few clicks. Even if only one or two of your board members are remote, they can still participate and be part of the team!

    • Design highly focused agendas to keep your virtual board meetings on track. Use our Agenda Builder to create dynamic agendas. Either start from scratch or get a headstart with a customizable template. Designate an allotted time for each agenda item and record minutes directly on the agenda during the meeting.

    • Assign follow-up tasks to ensure all crucial work is completed. Use our Task Manager to keep track of tasks and due dates to ensure nothing flies under the radar. You’ll increase board members’ productivity and accountability with clear next steps that are scannable within seconds on their personal dashboards.

    • Assign roles to meet the need for hands-on facilitation. Designate various board members to be the notetaker to record accurate minutes, timekeeper to keep everyone on track, and a technical point person to troubleshoot technical challenges. Altogether, this will ensure the entire meeting doesn’t get derailed by simple logistics.

    Spotlight is designed specifically to meet the needs of today’s boards and enhance their virtual meetings. No need to take a piecemeal approach and juggle various video conferencing, note-taking, and communication platforms. Plus, Spotlight works well for hybrid and fully in-person meetings, too! Regardless if your attendees are scattered in different locations or all in the same room, you’ll have everything you need. Conducting a meeting is more efficient than ever!

    Create your free Boardable account to see how our software can improve your virtual board meetings.


    Virtual board meetings can be a powerful strategy when leveraged effectively. However, just like any tech-based solution, this concept presents unique challenges and benefits that require some extra forethought to overcome. Whatever your board’s reason for going digital is, it’s crucial that you have the right processes in place to ensure your virtual meetings are as productive as possible.

    Now that you’re well-versed on the components of effective virtual board meetings, you can head into your next one with confidence. Just make sure you’re backed by the powerful board tools to get you there!

    To continue your research, we’ve assembled a list of resources that we thought you might find useful. Take a look and explore each one to become a virtual board meeting expert:

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