How to Run a Board Meeting Efficiently

When a board meeting operates well, the participants contribute equally, are engaged, and leave feeling energized. But running an effective meeting doesn't happen by accident. This occurs when members are prepared ahead of time, understand their roles and contribute in between meetings. Here are a few simple tips for how to run a board meeting efficiently and effectively.

How to run a board meeting efficiently

While it can be tempting to run a board meeting casually and allow for the conversation to meander, this approach tends to devolve into long presentations, tangential conversations and little productivity. Or worse.

To run an efficient board meeting, one directors and staff don't dread attending, the two most important elements are to follow a timed agenda and have an effective chairperson.

A standard board meeting agenda looks something like this:

● Recognize quorum

● Call meeting to order

● Approve agenda and minutes

● Updates and reports

● Old business

● New business

● Other business

● Close the meeting

Running an efficient board meeting often comes down to preparing ahead of time. Reaching out to board members in the days or weeks leading up to a meeting allows the chairperson to check in, ask about possible issues or ideas they'd like to discuss in the meeting and ensure they're planning to attend. Distributing the agenda ahead of time is also important, as it allows members to think about the key points, review what has been accomplished since the last meeting and prepare for any topics they'd like to speak to.

Setting and sending the agenda early also helps set the expectation of how long the meeting will take, how much time will be spent on items for discussion and will help the meeting run smoothly.

For an in-depth look at these meeting elements, visit Boardeffect.com.

How to be an effective chairperson

The chairperson runs the meeting and a good chair will be familiar with either parliamentary procedure or Robert's Rules of Order to guide the meeting through an efficient process. When chairing a meeting, one of the main responsibilities of the chairperson is to facilitate discussion and give each person the chance to speak. This may mean reminding dominating members to allow others a chance to voice their opinion, keeping the discussion focused on the current topic or even helping to word motions when necessary. Their goal is to conduct an orderly meeting, one that follows the rules of order, keeps moving, has open discussion focused on strategic progress and is of benefit to the board members and the organization as a whole.

Here are a six additional responsibilities a chairperson has in order to run an efficient meeting:

● Provide enough notice of the meeting for members to be prepared

● Distribute materials ahead of time (agenda, minutes, reports)

● Follow proper meeting procedures

● Respect everyone's time

● Ensure each participant has a voice and is listened to

● Ensure the meeting is documented with minutes

Although many boards of directors don't meet more than quarterly or even bi-annually, board meetings are an important way organizations and companies can ensure their leadership and investors or donors are on the same page. While some boards meet over conference or video calls, making the extra effort to host an in-person meeting at a local meeting space will help build relationships, create time for socializing and networking and allow for deeper discussions.

It's at these meetings the long-term vision and strategies are discussed. And when done well, these meetings can be efficient and extremely productive and inspiring at the same time.

If a meeting promotes collaboration, stays focused on priorities, is calm and respectful and avoids minutiae, then it is very possible to run a board meeting efficiently and with great benefit to all involved.


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