5 Tips to Make Board Meetings Meaningful

watchAre your meetings stuck in a status-quo rut? Take back the reigns of your board meetings, and make the time spent together productive with these five tips.

1. Have an Agenda

As a rule of thumb, never start a board meeting without a shared, agreed-upon agenda.

Agendas establish a plan of action and keep meetings focused. When sent in advance, they also allow members to review relevant materials and prepare for discussions.

According to our 2014 State of Board Engagement Report, 86% of board members were engaged or very engaged when meeting materials were delivered in a timely manner. This number drops to 64% when they are not.

Go one step further, and solicit feedback on the agenda prior to the meeting. With a board portal, members can easily request agenda additions or express concerns.

2. Keep Meetings Balanced

When board meetings center solely on presentations, you risk board member engagement. Conversely, when comprised of only group discussions and debate, objective items suffer. Create a healthy balance for your meetings to keep them interesting, yet productive.

Share planned discussion points at least one week in advance so members can start to formulate thoughts and ideas before they arrive.

3. Ask Smart Questions

One question could change the entire course of a meeting.

Often, during board meetings, someone tends to ask a vague, open-ended question such as, “What could we be doing better?” This then results in tangents and off-topic debates, subsequently derailing the agreed-upon agenda.

Instead, pose metrics geared questions related to the specific topics at hand such as “How much money did we raise at our last event? How can we improve those numbers for future ones?” These types of questions tend to elicit more strategic discussions, resulting in actionable outcomes. 

4. Set Strict Start and End Times

Board members often have other obligations. Setting strict start and end times for both board meetings and individual agenda items shows that you respect their time and value their commitment.

Furthermore, hard start and stop times set a precedent and expectation of punctuality.

5. Share Meeting Minutes

Following board meetings, post minutes, notes and action items in a central location for easy access by all members. This keeps those that couldn’t attend up-to-speed, while also ensuring that the whole board is on the same page moving forward.

According to our report, 90% of board members were engaged or very engaged when archived meeting minutes, organizational data and other resources were accessible to board members, logically organized and easy to use. This number drops to 68% when they are not.

For further ways to solicit meaningful board meetings, see our report, The 2014 State of Board Engagement.

How do you execute meaningful board meetings? Share your thoughts below.

Image Source: Alexander Kaiser via Flickr