Conference calls are a convenient way for board members to share ideas without having to meet in person. To be effective, however, they must be treated differently than in-person meetings.
It’s more challenging to keep all members engaged virtually, but it can be done with the right tools and strategy. Continue reading for tips on how to run an effective board meeting conference call.
1. Keep it Brief and Simple
To have a more effective board conference call, keep it short and simple. Plan ahead, and send out an agenda to all attendees as a way to prepare. Agendas let everyone know what to expect, and provide a reference to follow. They are also a good way to keep the facilitator on schedule.
An agenda is best managed in a centralized system where attendees can access it both before the call to prepare and afterward for reference.
Limit the call to only those who need to attend. Most conference calls have at most four people. Crowding a line with extra voices and opinions can hurt productivity.
2. Avoid Distractions
Avoid distractions by closing out all unnecessary programs so you can focus on the call. Multi-tasking will distract you and the other callers on the line.
If it’s not your time to speak, and you’re doing the listening, use the mute button. This helps minimize distractions and background noise that might transfer over the line.
You can keep callers engaged and focused by asking for feedback throughout the call.
3. Pay Attention to Timing
Starting and ending the call on time is key to a successful conference call. If you make callers wait for you, or make them late, you’re going to create tension and frustration. Use timers throughout the call, if needed, to help you remain cognizant of the pace.
If callers are late, let those present know you’re going to record the call. This saves you from having to go back and repeat yourself when late callers join. Upload or save the recording to your board portal for quick access later by all stakeholders.
4. Use Video If You Can
Using video is a great way to pick up on social cues that may otherwise be disregarded during a conference call. Video calls improve communication and help foster better board relationships.
5. Recap the Meeting
At the end of the call, recap all the main points of discussion. Review action items, and ensure everyone on the call is on the same page.
Once you hang up the call, post meeting minutes in your board portal or draft an email to attendees recapping meeting highlights. Meeting minutes are often used for future decisions and need to be referenced by multiple people. Make sure they are available in a centralized system so everyone can access them when needed.
For more information on how you can engage your board members, download The 2015 Board Engagement Report.
Image Credit: NEC Corporation of America