You’ll find a plethora of articles across the internet with tips for running effective board meetings – but here I’ve summarized some of my favorite advice on this subject…

 

  1. Know What You Want to Achieve; This involves more than just following an agenda, or list of items for discussion.  Be clear on what decisions need to be made, what actions need to be confirmed and the purpose for any discussions.
  2. You Make the Difference; Remember everyone in the boardroom has a role in ensuring the effectiveness of the meeting.  Listen actively, ask opinions from others yet to contribute, summarise and focus discussions that start to wander, and be prepared having read the board papers and considered any questions that you want to follow up.
  3. Achieve What You Can Outside the Meeting; Send reports/ board papers early to allow board members to take notes and become familiar with the subject, float or follow up controversial or lengthy proposals with other board members before the meeting (perhaps at dinner the night before!) and follow up action items before the meeting – taking some of the thinking and digesting of ideas out of the meeting will help it run more smoothly.
  4. Bookend the Meeting with Vision; Start the meeting with some big picture thinking and plans, then move onto routine reports and progress against the strategic plan, before concluding with some discussion or connection with the organisations vision (e.g. success stories).  You want your board to leave inspired and connected – not focused on what you will spend on paperclips this year!
  5. Build the Team and Have Fun; The board that plays together stays together right?  Regularly spend some time getting to know each other (perhaps over a lunch break), share stories of personal successes, go on a site or study tour together, perhaps even do a team building exercise.  Building personal connections will help develop a team atmosphere, and increase commitment and enjoyment.

 

Sarah Morton-Johnson

June 2015