Want to generate more engagement in board meetings? We asked board directors for their best tips to drive board meeting engagement.
Is there one way a board directors of any organization (nonprofits, corporations, higher education, etc.) can ensure their meetings are more engaging?
To help you foster more engagement in board meetings, we asked board directors and business owners this question for their best tips. From collecting questions beforehand to recapping the last meeting, there are several tips that may help you ensure a more engaging and participiative board meeting for any organization.
Here are 13 ways to drive board meeting engagement:
- Collect Questions Beforehand
- Show Real-life Influence and Results
- Implement Actionable Responsibilities and Follow Up
- Utilize Peer Input
- Rotate Roles While Maintaining Each Director’s Station
- Dedicate Bi-monthly Emails
- Enable a Chat Room for Side Chatting
- Get to Know the Members of Your Board
- Prepare Solutions Ahead of Time
- Go Paperless
- Sticking to the Agenda Timeline
- Give Everyone a Chance to Present their Views
- Recap the Previous Meeting
1. Collect Questions Beforehand
One way boards of directions can ensure meetings are more engaging is by giving participants the option of submitting questions pre-meeting. By giving attendees a form to fill out to submit inquiries, you can steer the discussion to topics that most interest or concern your audience without wasting time calling on audience members. This approach can also give less outgoing meeting members the opportunity to participate and can allow attendees to raise issues anonymously.
Tasia Duske, Museum Hack
2. Show Real-life Influence and Results
One good way to have a more engaging discussion in a board meeting is to provide real-life testimonials or stories related to the organization’s mission, goals, and services. Share how your organization has influenced and positively affected other people.
Stories and testimonials give a sense of pride and assure the board directors that the organization is on the right track or if there are still things to improve. Real-life experiences are powerful subjects and will likely encourage an open and engaging discussion between the directors in the meeting.
Paw Vej, Financer.com Ltd.
3. Implement Actionable Responsibilities and Follow Up
Board meetings can quickly devolve into a dry reporting of events, in which there is little involvement by members, and that’s why creating actionable responsibilities and follow-up are critical to making them more engaging. Board members will respond to a meeting by how they are addressed, meaning that if nothing is asked of them, and there are no expectations that there will be, then there is little chance for engagement.
By designing a meeting agenda, in which your board members are given actionable responsibilities, whether it is additional networking, access to capital, or consulting, they are pushed to respond, which in turn drives interests. In addition, by following up your meeting with minutes and status updates on those responsibilities, it acts as motivation for future meetings. In creating actionable responsibilities and a follow up process for check-ins, you will keep your board members involved and ensure their engagement.
Adelle Archer, Eterneva
4. Utilize Peer Input
Any board director of any organization should utilize peer input to make their meetings more engaging. It’s the best way to understand how you can make improvements and make these meetings not only more engaging, but also more effective.
Maybe the meetings run too long, or there simply are not any snacks offered that can keep your peers’ minds on the task at hand, rather than on their stomachs. You’ll never know unless you open these meetings up for valuable input.
Joe Spector, Dutch
5. Rotate Roles While Maintaining Each Director's Station
One way board meetings can be more engaging is to regularly rotate facilitation roles so each director can take a turn leading as well as taking meeting minutes throughout the year.
While each director maintains their respective station, taking turns with these two important functions supports different perspectives and dynamic leadership styles while setting a healthy pace for meeting dialogue. When board members have the opportunity to participate without the hypnotic effect of a predictable routine, directors may hold their seat sitting on the edge, shouldering each responsibility equally as redistributed over the course of the term.
Robert’s Rules of Order still support the session framework when members take turns taking minutes and leading board meetings, allowing for more diplomacy and understanding as everyone contributes to each administrative role.
Benjamin Meskin, Cabrella
6. Dedicate Bi-Monthly Emails
Your meetings should not be considered an “email” meeting. To make sure that a meeting is worth everyone’s time, try to have the meetings bi-monthly or even once a month. This way, information is not repeated and people are able to bring more to the table since more time has passed. Overdoing meetings is never fun, so keep email communication high and meetings low.
Daniel Tejada, Straight Up Growth
7. Enable a Chat Room for Side Chatting
Video conferencing is now the mainstay for most boards in the face of a pandemic that continues to redefine how we do business and interact. With video conferencing, the experience is everything, and more often than not, organizations will forget that the attendees’ experience is crucial to the success of the meeting.
Enabling a separate chat room where board members can have a side chat is crucial in making all the meetings you have engaging and productive. A side chat enables members to elaborate on what is going on during the session to minimize instances of attendees not following through with the agendas as others discuss them. Moreover, side chats are essential for keeping board members engaged during breaks as you host the meeting.
John Tian, Mobitrix
8. Get to Know the Members of Your Board
To improve overall board administration, get to know your board members’ interests, conversation styles, and preferences. A well-structured board is made up of people from various backgrounds and personalities. Some people, for example, will speak first and consider later. Others will think first and then speak. You must understand who you should encourage to speak and who you should encourage to stop speaking!
Get to know your board members outside the boardroom. The chair, executive director or CEO, and any other board leadership should meet with each member regularly to allow for uncomfortable conversations in a group environment.
Like your leadership, inspire your board members to get to know one another by engaging outside the boardroom. Annual board getaways and regular get-togethers can foster friendship, leading to honest discourse during official board sessions.
Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group
9. Prepare Solutions Ahead of Time
Boards are not advisory councils used to help solve problems, which is why you’ll build more engaging meetings by coming up with solutions to meet your biggest challenges ahead of time. The board doesn’t want to face difficult-to-answer questions at their meeting, which slows down progress and wastes everyone’s precious time.
Presenting your solutions to the board shows confidence and leadership experience that will impress them, keeping them engaged as they wonder what you’ll say next. Seek outside advice for challenges rather than using the board when you’re struggling to find the answers, using them to reinforce and approve your solutions, not create them.
Cliff Auerswald, All Reverse Mortgage
10 Go Paperless
Transition to a paperless board meeting so you can quickly search through topics, replace outdated text, spot data patterns, and get through the monotonous parts of a BOD meeting quickly to move on to more engaging topics. Going digital allows you to use video, audio, and animations to communicate with the board and keep everyone awake and even excited as you get through the pertinent meeting materials. With high-speed 5G internet connections widely available, adding rich interactive elements to board meetings is more accessible than ever.
Samuel Devyver, EasyLlama
11. Stick to the Agenda Timeline
The board needs to be able to move the meeting along by sticking to the agenda. For instance, if there is a discussion that is lasting too long based on one part of the agenda, the leader can remind everyone that they need to move on to the next part of the agenda. By staying on top of the schedule, these meetings can be more streamlined and productive without feeling too long.
Drew Sherman, Carvaygo
12. Give Everyone a Chance to Present their Views
When hosting a meeting, let everyone know they also have to present their view on the topic. In case another person finds a loophole in the point, they can also let everyone know about it so all of you can discuss it further. Giving everyone a chance to speak means everyone has to be prepared with a point to represent their views. When this happens, meetings automatically become interesting and engaging.
Meera Watts, Siddhi Yoga International Pte. Ltd.
13. Recap the Previous Meeting
One way board directors can ensure their meetings are more engaging is to begin the meeting with a quick recap of what was discussed in previous meetings, with some updates on any new information. Having this brief summary ready and available prior to each meeting will help keep members engaged throughout the discussion as it provides them clarity on where they left off last time and what they need to discuss next.
Jar Kuznecov, Water Softeners Hub
About The Author
- At OnBoard, we believe board meetings should be informed, effective, and uncomplicated. That’s why we give boards and leadership teams an elegant solution that simplifies governance. With customers in higher education, nonprofit, health care systems, government, and corporate enterprise business, OnBoard is the leading board management provider.
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