When it comes to board meetings, this is one of the fastest ways to make me nuts. I’m begging you….please don’t.
Let’s think about why you have board meetings:
* To build relationships amongst board members so they work well together
* To focus their attention on the most important priorities of the organization
* To educate them on their roles and how best to execute them
* To engage them in robust discussion and generate ideas, identify opportunities, etc.
* To celebrate progress!
It’s not to summarize written minutes they should have already been sent. They are adults, treat them as such.
Let them know you aren’t going to be reviewing minutes; that they are expected to read them in advance and come prepared to ask questions if need be. Manage their expectations. (And if some folks don’t want to do even the most basic prep, it may be time to thank them for their service and move them on).
When a committee has a recommendation to bring forth, or other items that needs full board input, go ahead and put it on the agenda as such.
Some tips for exceptional board meetings:
Categorize each item on your proposed agenda as one of three types:
1. Information item (doesn’t require discussion; labels like “Report” or “Update” give these away)
2. Discussion item
3. Action item (requires vote)
If you have mostly info items, you might not need the meeting. You can email them the info instead.
Allow your strategic plan to drive the agenda.
Instead of info items, create opportunities for robust discussion that generate ideas related to your priorities, set goals or strategy, focus on the most important things.
When you respect volunteers’ time by using it wisely and engaging their talent, you’ll have more efficient and effective meetings as well as increased board member satisfaction, and ultimately retention.
Board members lead the meeting.
This is a board meeting, not a staff meeting. For example, why is the Director of Philanthropy on the agenda? I don’t mean to imply staff should never speak but the Philanthropy Committee Chair is the best person to lead the conversation.
If you’re not sure they’ll be good at it or know what to focus on, then staff needs to coach them. And staff can be there to support the discussion as needed.
Peer influence is powerful. Don’t dilute it.
Now go fix that agenda you’ve been working on and call me if you get stuck.