It can be quite frustrating for board members if board meetings are not run smoothly and effectively. Effectively utilizing the board’s time together is important to keep the board mission-focused and forward-thinking. Wasted time at meetings could impact an organization negatively and financially.
How a board meeting can be run smooth and effectively comes down to setting clear expectations, goals and strategies.
Tips to running a smooth, effective board meeting:
- In the organizing phase, communicate with the board members in advance of a meeting, include the following:
- Date, time and location of the meeting, along with an estimated length for the meeting;
- Agenda – prepare and send out at least a week prior to the meeting date, make the agenda as strategic as possible, mission focused, and with clear goals to be attained;
- Packet of materials – this should include any reports and information to be reviewed and the order of the items in the packet should mimic the agenda listing, this should be distributed to the board 3-5 days prior to the meeting;
- Request an RSVP to be sure a quorum will be met.
- Effective board meetings should be collaborative and have clear boundaries, “Robert’s Rules of Order” can assist in setting ground rules, in addition to setting rules regarding acceptable conduct during meetings, for example cellphone usage. Meeting processes should be evaluated annually – gathering feedback from all board members is important for the meetings to evolve – this can be done using polling tools to gather information.
- Start and end the meeting on time – assume the board members have read through the packet of materials. Do not waste time by reading reports aloud, summarize what was already sent out, keeping in-line with the agenda, in an effort to have effective discussions that will ultimately end in making strategic decisions. Items that are routine, non-controversial and self-explanatory could potentially be voted on electronically as part of a consent agenda to save time for more pertinent topics. Any off-agenda topics should be set aside for discussion at the end, if time allows, or to be added to a future meeting agenda.
- Be sure there is a system for documenting the meeting minutes – these are a record to be kept regarding decisions and discussions, but also will summarize any open action tasks, questions, and recommendations. See TBC News, Nonprofit article posted February 4, 2022 “What’s Important When it Comes to Documenting Board Minutes”.
- Appoint a good chair for the board – this individual should have knowledge of the organization’s industry and operations, along with an understanding the governance ideologies. The individual should have good organizational skills and be able to be firm in guiding the conversations as necessary to keep in-line with the agenda and time-frame of the meeting in order to keep the meeting running smooth and effective.