One of the top complaints of nonprofit board members is that board meetings aren’t productive or interesting or otherwise effective.
And yet, I bet you haven’t changed things up much. Your post-pandemic meetings may be hybrid or virtual but when was the last time you really looked at your agendas?
I mean really assessed them and discussed them and asked for feedback and really committed to excellent meetings that are a compelling use of your volunteers’ time.
(Now there’s a chance you’re totally satisfied with your meetings – awesome! Read this anyway so you can help your colleagues in the sector).
Let’s consider your agendas together now! Take a look at a few tips here and if you’d like a copy of my full paper on “Winning Practices for Board Meetings,” you can email me.
5 Tips for Exceptional Board Meetings:
1. Use your strategic priorities to drive the agenda. What are your key initiatives? Depending on the season, these will be the main items on your agenda.
For example, if you have a major capital project, or if you’re opening a new market, or you’re launching a new business model, these items will be the essential items on your agenda. They could include approving a new budget or an architectural plan.
2. Categorize each agenda items into one of 3 categories: action, discussion and information. Be honest about it. Put the action items at the top of the agenda so you have ample time for them and can allow for a higher degree of interaction.
If you see the majority of the items are informational, stop and reassess. Maybe you don’t need a meeting but instead could just provide an email update. Focus on the BIG stuff.
3. Always include a mission moment. This is a personal story from someone who has benefitted from your work. It could be an in-person presentation or a video or maybe even a reading of a letter.
I like putting them right at the top of the agenda because it reconnects the board members with the mission and reminds them why they are there. It sets the tone for the meeting. The more heartfelt and touching, the better.
4. Please don’t include “committee reports.” That’s all I’ll say here but see previous blog about how they can ruin a meeting. Ugh. Unless there is a recommendation coming from a committee, include minutes in the consent agenda.
5. Remove staff names from the agenda. This is a board meeting. Board members run it. If there is something pressing the CEO needs to ask, fine; but that should be the exception, not the rule. Otherwise, a written CEO report is provided in the advance board packet and put on the consent agenda.
The CFO doesn’t give the finance report or budget presentation – the Treasurer does. The Philanthropy Director doesn’t try to encourage board members to participate in the upcoming campaign – the Philanthropy Committee Chair does.
Staff can certainly answer questions and support the conversation; that’s different than leading the discussion. Let board members do their job.
Creating effective board meeting agendas is an art and a science. Every organization’s agendas will look a bit different but these tips will get you started on the right foot.
Once you make the switch, you’ll be glad you did. It’s not as hard as you may think.
For more helpful tips on how to change your meetings to be fantastic forever, reply to this email and request my full paper on “Winning Practices for Board Meetings.”
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