Be honest – how interesting are your board meetings? Are they useful and actionable? Or are some of your board members struggling to keep their eyes open? Effective board meetings are essential to the success of your company, so we’ve put together some tips for making them as engaging and productive as possible.
Why do effective board meetings matter?
A board meeting is your opportunity to communicate your vision for the organisation to the people whose support you need. It should set actionable goals and give your team the ability to drive your strategy forward. But how can you achieve this if your board meeting is dull and people aren’t engaging with the agenda?
Running a board meeting is often complicated. The individuals on your board may not be the kind of people you can easily relate to or they might be difficult to impress. Time can often be tight – no matter how efficiently you plan and prepare, you may not be able to cover everything you want to. However, by making your board meeting more dynamic, you’ll have the best chance of getting everyone on board and ready to action your ideas. Here are five essential tips for engaging your board and boosting board meeting productivity.
5 essential board meeting ideas
1. Make it useful from the start
Your opening remarks should be useful – keep them focused on issues everyone can relate to so you can all hit the ground running. These should be general issues which have affected your business during the last 90 days and which are likely to affect your business in the 90 days to follow, such as:
- political events, such as changes in taxation rates, import costs or government
- general economic issues which are affecting your industry or company, such as rising rates, falling cap rates or FX movements
- updates on your customer base and product offering, like geographic expansion, product range expansion or movements of major customers
Providing your board with this information at the start will set a context for the rest of the meeting.
2. Use technology
Have you had to convene a board meeting in a hurry? Are some of your board members unable to be there? These days, this doesn’t need to be a problem – with the right conferencing technology, all your board members will still be able to take part.
Audio conferencing is ideal if you only need to speak to your board members and hear their feedback over the phone, but even if your board meeting agenda includes a visual presentation or handouts, it’s still possible to share these by using the latest web and video conferencing technology – you can even share screens.
You don’t even need to subscribe to a service provider – there are convenient pay-as-you-go options available for accessing these services. You’ll never have the frustration of postponing a board meeting again.
3. Keep your board well-fed
Your board may include individuals with very different personalities – maybe some of them don’t even like each other much. Perhaps you’ve had problems getting some of them to agree with your ideas. However, they’re more likely to see each other’s points of view (and yours) if you have all had the chance to build relationships with each other outside the formal setting of the board room. Social interaction is essential for getting to know your board members better and finding common ground with them. The more easily you can speak to them, the more receptive they are likely to be to your ideas.
Bernie Tenenbaum, writing for Forbes, suggests that a great idea is to arrange a meal for your board. This could be dinner the night before, or lunch directly before the meeting if it’s in the afternoon. This will give you the chance to talk informally to your board members and perhaps float a few ideas ahead of the meeting to give them time to think about them. Your board will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to and are more likely to be receptive to what you have to say.
In addition, the meeting itself is likely to be more productive as all the usual small talk will already have been done. You can get straight down to business when the meeting starts.
4. Focus on the future
Every board meeting has to have a review. This is where the results of the business since the last meeting are discussed. It is when board members have the opportunity to ask questions related to what's been going on.
Obviously, this is an important part of the meeting but it can end up taking too much time. Don’t forget, the main purpose of your board meeting is to plan future strategies and agree upon actions. By spending too much time looking in the rear-view mirror, you might not get the chance to make and agree on some of your essential plans for the future.
This is why it’s a good idea to allocate a specific amount of time to each item on your agenda and do your very best to stick to it.
5. Be appreciative
We all like to feel appreciated and board members are no exception. Your board members will feel more engaged and motivated if you create an appreciative culture at board meetings. Give as much positive feedback as possible and let them know you value their individual and group efforts.
Consultant Joan Garry suggests that the CEO and the chair of the board should email all the other board members straight after the meeting to thank them for their time and for taking part.
By making them feel more appreciated, your board will feel more motivated to take a bigger part in the meetings. This will keep them more interested in your organisation and its future success.
Find out more about running a board meeting
If you’d like more information and advice about board meetings and how to get the most out of them, our team at Express Virtual Meetings is always happy to help. We'll help you transform your board meetings from dull to dynamic.