How to have great board meetings

by | Governance

Do you have great board meetings? Unlikely. Too many meetings are poorly attended, take far too long, are unproductive, and without purpose or outcomes. It is time to make sure every meeting is excellent.

It’s not mandatory, but holding meetings that people want to attend is the right approach. Be sure you have the right policies in place.

Incorporate technology

Best meetings are powered by technology.  Board management software such as BoardSpace offers the best tools to collect, manage, use and store everything in one spot.  Nothing is ever lost.  No one ever forgets an assigned action because BoardSpace tracks them and reminds you about due dates.

The best meetings eliminate paper; as a bonus, they can be held anywhere. This allows directors from around the world to attend.

Hold meetings regularly

Meetings are held regularly.  For example, set meetings for the second Tuesday of each month and keep to this schedule.  When everyone knows when the meetings will be held, they can plan and work around other commitments.  Remember, board members are volunteers with their own busy lives.

Hold accessible meetings

meetings are accessible. Accessibility is the right thing to do.  If accessibility is always a consideration, then disability (permanent or temporary), cultural considerations such as religious holidays, food or drink restrictions, or any other obstacles will never prevent board members from attending meetings.

Manage the meetings

They are managed in a good way.

Before the meeting

Encourage members to bring their laptop, tablet or smartphone to every meeting.

Make sure meeting reminders are sent well in advance.  It doesn’t hurt to send a second one, too. Include the date, time, and location of the meeting and consider adding a short note that includes:

  • the top items on the agenda
  • reminders about overdue or coming due action items (with the hope that this will spur the responsible individual to get their work done)
  • request that directors come prepared with questions about the top item being discussed.

During the meeting

The Chair and the Secretary are key to keeping meetings on track.

Consider asking one member to be a timekeeper – who advises the Chair when time is running out.

If anyone gets off-topic or tries to advance the agenda, the Chair redirects them to the topic at hand.

After the meeting

Communication is vital to keeping a group connected and focused on shared goals before, during, or after the meeting.

  • Good Board Chairs always end meetings by thanking the board members for their time and service.
  • The Recording Secretary never forgot to ask directors to review the minutes by a specific date.
  • BoardSpace helps by sending automatic reminders that gently nudge directors to complete their assigned to-do lists.

Keep meetings short

Short as in concise and mission-driven.  Don’t make meetings any longer than necessary.  Board members are volunteers who have their schedules and busy lives. Lengthy meetings are a sign of a lack of direction.  Meetings must end on time.

Include nothing on the agenda that isn’t in direct support of the organization’s mission.  Starting every meeting with the Chair reading the organization’s mission keeps the board on topic.  Be disciplined about the agenda.

Why does having great board meetings matter?

Great board meetings are best because if meetings are not short, manageable, regular, and technology-enabled, they will lack purpose, direction, and positive outcomes.  In short, no one will want to attend.

Don’t suffer death by meetings.  Boards leverage all the tools available to them to deliver meetings that people will want to attend.  BoardSpace board management software is one of these tools.