Board meetings are often seen as merely administrative updates to inform board members about the performance of the organization since the last board meeting. At its core, updates are one of the main functions of a board meeting.
However, what if you focused on what else you can get out of that time? The individuals that comprise your board of directors are also the best group to use as a sounding board to make the tough decisions about the organization. Considering that board members already have access to the most confidential information about the organization and the choices made in the past, it would be a waste not to get more value out of your board meeting. As this post discusses areas to improve the productivity of your board meetings, consider how these changes could positively impact your organization.
How Most Board Meeting Prep Works
The following is a generic overview of how many organizations prepare for their board meetings.
A board meeting gets scheduled.
Nobody thinks much about it until a week or two before.
The management is focused on its daily work of winning customers, managing teams, shipping products, etc. The prep for the meeting is pushed to the last minute and accomplished in a scramble.
Meeting materials arrive the night before the meeting, which doesn’t give investors or board members much time to review said materials ahead of time.
The meeting starts, likely behind schedule. Meeting minutes are called to be approved from the previous meeting, but only as a formality. This interaction isn’t sparking growth or conversations.
The meeting is over. The board members race out because the meeting ran long, and everybody heads to their next meeting. The board members are updated, but not much of substance was discussed or decided.
Obviously, not every board meeting works this way, but it isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination either. This type of meeting can be your guide for what to avoid. The following tips can help you improve your board meetings.
How to Make Your Board Meeting Actually Effective
Establish or Refine Key Performance Indicators
If you haven’t already, create a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for managing the organization. Discuss the KPIs with the board to see what else they’d like to be tracking. They should also have input on what they believe success for this organization would look like. These metrics are likely already being tracked for your teams and managers. Use that data to drive your board KPI’s rather than creating an extra workload. These KPIs are where many of the overall updates of the organization can come from. Streamlining the update process will allow more time for big picture thinking or solving significant issues.
Prepare Key Strategic Issues
Define what your current most strategic issues are. Thinking through these concerns should not be left to the week of the board meeting. Focus on these topics at least 4-6 weeks before the meeting. These topics can include fundraising, product development choices, sales, marketing effectiveness, competition, business development, etc. This doesn’t need to be a novel or a full-blown presentation, but break down your thoughts into key bullet points to stay organized. Once those issues are identified, it is much easier to decide which areas are relevant to the board or could use their input.
Prepare the Board Ahead of Time
For weighty, significant questions, the board should be given time to think about the issue before the meeting. Prior information is especially important when the meeting goal is to decide or vote about the subject. Choosing how to deliver the pre-information will vary based on the types of people on the board. You may schedule calls, send a short presentation via email, or have a quick “pre-meeting” to lay out the issue. Sharing this information allows board members sufficient time to think through the possible outcomes, risks, and alternative solutions for the item to be discussed.
Pro Tip: Leverage your board portal to share pertinent information before the meeting without compromising your organization’s security. Directors can even make notes on documents or ask questions about materials before the meeting.
Create a Board Agenda
A good agenda is crucial to the productivity of the meeting. The agenda should be highly specific, with a particular focus on topics. Time allocations are also very important for boards who often go over meeting times or meetings with numerous items to be addressed. Avoid having to rush through essential topics with a thoroughly planned agenda. Consider the order of items on the agenda as well. When pressed for time, avoid having less critical issues at the top of the agenda. This flow of items can prevent less important topics from eating up too much of the meeting time.
Leverage Technology to Streamline Board Processes
Actions like voting, reviewing documents, or obtaining signatures are crucial to the function of the board. They can also eat up a lot of time. Utilizing technology to improve these processes can make them more efficient to accomplish and infinitely easier to track and compile. By shifting tedious manual processes like voting to a virtual format, much of the administrative strain of board meetings is mitigated. This also allows board members to discuss topics in the meeting, give them more consideration in their own time and still vote before the deadline using a virtual voting tool. Likewise, don’t waste time in the meeting reviewing documentation that needs signatures or going over in-depth board surveys. E-signature tools and virtual surveys can save time during your meeting and allow for more productive conversations.
Better Board Meetings with Govenda
As an industry-leading board portal, Govenda provides a portal to connect and collaborate with leaders and employees virtually. With a robust suite of tools for communication, agenda-building, and secure information sharing, Govenda keeps organizations running smoothly. Leverage technology for your board meeting to improve productivity and streamline processes.
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