10 Tips for Successful Board Meetings

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10 Tips for a Successful Board Meeting

2015, BoardEffect LLC


Tip 1: Productive Agenda: Timely and balancedUse this tip to look beyond the obvious. Copying and pasting an agenda from the prior meeting and making a few additions and deletions is a time-saver, but its also one that can carry some risk if you get into the habit of not reviewing the agenda, line by line. The biggest risk in forming a hastily planned agenda is overlooking critical topics.Balance the agenda by mixing some of the heavier items with lighter topics. If you know that a topic is going to be heavy or laden with controversy, mix it up with some breaks or follow it with something more pleasant. Improve the mood with a short team-building exercise or share some uplifting news.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 2: Consent Agenda: Use it but dont abuse itA consent agenda is a useful tool for addressing routine items, but some of them may require vetting and discussion. The board should have the chance to discuss and review every item on the agenda. The secretary and the board chair should review all agenda items to be sure they are current and each is given the priority it requires. Make sure board members get materials for items on the consent agenda ahead of time. Allow members to pull an item out of the consent agenda if they wish to discuss it.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 3: Preparation is Key: All eyes on the chair and secretaryIn the eyes of the board members, if the secretary and chair dont put in the time to adequately prepare for the board meeting by getting materials to them early, it sets the stage for the rest of the board to do just as little. In fact, they may not bother to show up at all. Another misstep is to surprise board members with a lengthy proposal or controversial item that they were not prepared for. Boards do their best work when theyve had time to mentally and emotionally prepare for whatever the agenda holds.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 4: Executive Committee: In sessionThe executive committee handles all matters that occur in between board meetings and also acts as a steering committee. During these meetings, the CEO also has the opportunity to have candid discussions with the executive committee about sensitive matters. The popularity of technological tools like email, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing has made these meetings far easier. Technology has also made it easier for to keep executive committee meeting attendance high.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 5: Taking a Record of the Board MeetingTechnology is a handy communication tool when it works and the facilitator knows how to use it. Here are a few of the things that can go wrong:On a webinar, you can hear the host, but cant see the slides, or vice versaOn a teleconference you can hear someones dog barking or others talking but not the presenterA member of a teleconference puts the phone line on hold and the hold music distracts from the presenterOn a videoconference, you can see the other party, but you cant hear themEvery meeting should have someone on hand who can solve any technical difficulties. When a member doesnt get to participate, its frustrating for the member and the chair.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 6: At-Large Members: Give them a jobA few board members will join the board with full knowledge of what is expected of them and how they want to contribute to the board. These are the board members who always read the pre-meeting materials. Those arent the ones you need to worry about. Its the ones who dont speak up at meetings, arent active on committees, and dont participate. The chair should find a job for them or put them on at least one committee. If they are just not good at speaking up, the board chair may speak with the member one on one, and either mentor the member or assign a mentor to that member to incite some motivation. If the member still fails to get involved, it might be appropriate to let the members term expire.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 7: Be Forward Thinking: Dont Look BackIts a great morale booster to call the board members attention to past successes, but repeating past work wont necessarily move the organization forward. Get the members thinking outside the box and into the future. Do some brainstorming with the board to try to forecast how todays decisions will affect tomorrows organization.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 8: Make a Connection: Its personalThe board members are often somewhat removed from how their decisions affect employees, their families, or other people and organizations that are related to the boards work. Give the board a break from their hard work long enough to see some of their work in action. Show a slide show of how their decisions have helped others or grown the company profitably. Give them a tour of a new facility to show that what they do makes a difference. It could be something as simple as sharing a 10-minute, personal story. Helping board members draw a closer connection to their work just might recharge and motivate the most bored or frustrated board member.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 9: Social Events: One is funMost board members know that social events can be a great way to network with others and get to know about other facets of the organization or those they do business with. Its fairly safe to say that if someone serves on a board, they are busy with other things as well. Busy people can get burned out quickly, so unless there is an express purpose for requiring members to attend an event, its best to limit them in number.

2015, BoardEffect LLCTip 10: Dont Lose Hope: Just give it scopeA board meeting where there is controversy and disagreement among members isnt fun for anyone. Try to remember that a diversified board with differing perspectives was planned by design, in order to take advantage of a wide variety of perspectives. The culmination of those perspectives is what drives important work forward. Step back, give it scope. Separate your own perspective (or the perspectives of a minority opinion) by re-framing it against the bigger picture.

2015, BoardEffect LLCIn ConclusionA common thread runs through all ten tipsengagement. Engagement can mean to attract someones attention or to encourage them to participate. When the board chair or meeting facilitator makes board member engagement a priority, board members become motivated. Motivated members are the nuts and bolts that hold a successful board meeting together and make it strong.

2015, BoardEffect LLC


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2015, BoardEffect LLC

2015, BoardEffect LLC