January 27, 2016

The Art of Planning a Board Retreat

Last week I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with Sheila Weiner, President and Founder of The Event Group. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Event Group is a global leader in corporate events and event planning and has been delivering extraordinary events for close to 30 years. Their deep well of expertise coupled with in-depth understanding of corporate strategies lead to incredible events that focus on showcasing organizations and facilitating their goals. During our conversation, Sheila shared some ideas on how they approach planning a board retreat. We thought you might enjoy some of the highlights.

Why is location important when planning a board retreat?

One of the most important aspects of planning a board retreat is location. Location is more than just a room to facilitate a discussion, it sets the entire tone for the retreat. A mountaintop cabin will establish a completely different vibe than a renowned sporting stadium, so it is important to brainstorm a number of location possibilities that your board could excel in. If the location you are interested in takes up a whole day of travel, it is imperative to give a year’s notice so that you can ensure the entire board can be in attendance. The location should also offer ample opportunities for group activities while still providing a space that is both intimate and private to ensure smooth and productive meetings.

What are some features the location should have?

If the retreat is more than one day, the location should have accommodations on the property itself or nearby. A private and comfortable space should be reserved for the duration of the retreat with restrooms and refreshments close by. You should also ask the venue about any AV needs you may have, as you may need to rent equipment.

How do these features help accomplish the goals of refocusing, strategizing, and connecting?

If your board members are refreshed, well rested, comfortable and, most importantly, fed, they will act as their most creative, attentive and focused selves. A retreat is an effective way to remove members from their everyday tribulations to not only focus on the agenda at hand, but to also thank them for their hard work.

What other considerations are there when planning a board retreat?

Budget is the most important consideration when planning a board retreat. The board’s demographics, especially age range, should also be considered so that you plan a retreat that is enjoyable for all attendees.

What events can be added to the schedule to increase engagement?

A group activity is a great way to increase engagement and create bonding experiences for board members. A “glamping” retreat in the great outdoors could include a nature hike or outdoor yoga class. If you prefer the comforts of city living, an art museum or gallery could host a paint or sculpture workshop to kick start your board’s creativity. If your board is more on the competitive side, a NASCAR racetrack or famous baseball stadium will spark everyone’s interest. A scavenger hunt or private cooking class will certainly liven the mood and both activities can be arranged in almost any city or venue location.

If you’d like to see some of the awesome events done by The Event Group, you can visit them at The Event Group website.  And click here to learn more about Govenda, the Board Success Platform™. 

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