Ever feel like you’re living in a world of meeting overload? I know I do, and it’s safe to say that your board members feel the same. There’s nothing worse than a meeting that has no direction – especially when that meeting is after hours for your “volunteer” job. Here are three simple, yet effective tips to help you have efficient board meetings in the new year.
1. Agenda. Agenda. Agenda.
Your board members are volunteering their time and that time should be valued. Preparing an agenda ahead of time (and sticking to it) is crucial for an efficient board meeting. The agenda should be centered around your organization’s strategic goals, not updates. (Learn more in #2).
Your agenda has a start time on it. Stick to it and always start on time. Most of your board members have “real” jobs and busy lives, which can sometimes mean they’ll run late. Don’t feel like you have to wait for everyone to arrive to start the meeting. Because, when you start every meeting on time, you convey the importance of punctuality and show board members and guests that you value their time.
The agenda should be centered around your organization’s strategic goals, not updates.
2. Strategic discussion not information overload.
We’re all busy and your board members are no different. The last thing you want your board members thinking is “I wish I was at home right now.” Wasting time with a board meeting that doesn’t provide any value not only frustrates your board members, but it doesn’t help move your organization forward.
Your board’s job is to help move your mission forward through governance and strategy. Make your board meetings about strategic discussions and decisions, not updates. Non-controversial or routine items can easily be reviewed via email prior to the meeting. Make sure you send out materials at least five days ahead of time. Materials such as the agenda, previous meeting minutes, financial statements, membership reports and staff reports, and any other documents can be sent to board members prior to the meeting.
Good board members know their responsibilities and will read what you send them. Assume board members did their homework and reviewed the updates. This will make the meeting more productive by allowing more time for strategic discussions.
Make your board meetings about strategic discussions and decisions, not updates.
3. Vision and inspiration.
Your board members are there because they believe in the mission and vision of your organization. Don’t forget to include your mission and vision in your board meetings. Try to book-end your meetings with mission and vision to help the board stay connected to your organization’s purpose.
You can incorporate your mission through small things, such as having your mission and vision statement printed on your meeting agenda. You could also have a new member give a testimonial about why they joined, or a program attendee relay the professional benefits they received from an educational course.
Just make sure your board members leave inspired and deeply connected to your vision. You don’t want them leaving a meeting focused on how much you’re going to spend on post-it notes this year.
Your board meetings can be one of your greatest assets or one of your biggest headaches. Use these tips to get 2019 started on the right foot.