Running an effective board meeting can be a complicated affair. Whether you are the board chair and worrying about maintaining focus and enabling engagement or a board executive preoccupied with planning and arranging the meeting.
Though meetings are a powerful tool and can help strategies and processes to take shape. There are a number of ways to run an effective, efficient meeting which leaves executive members of the board feeling energized and excited. Here are our top tips.
1. Assemble The Right Boardroom Team
The ideal board should be simultaneously entrepreneurial to help drive the business forward whilst keeping the business under control with appropriate expertise around finance and risk.
It should consist of executives that hold technical knowledge, legal specialists, accountants and analysts. Members that have been involved in successful business can also be an asset.
Board members should also have the right personality. Executives that have the capacity to play devils advocate are more beneficial to an executive team that naysayers and argumentative personalities.
2. Develop A Focused Agenda
Preparing an agenda that is strictly focused is better than creating a list of talking points that do not contribute to the outcome of the meeting. The purpose of board meetings is to make sure everything on the agenda is relevant to the successful running of the business.
To create a focused agenda:
• Assign a time allowance for each talking point and stick to it. A chairman that is adept at time management, has authority and excels at moving board meetings along will ensure the meeting is productive
• Prioritise the most important points for discussion
• Be realistic with time estimates
• Allow some time for issues that overrun. It is better to end meetings early than miss out agenda items
3. Establish An Ethic of Teamwork
Although board members should each have a specific responsibility, the most effective boards value team ethic. Cultivating a team ethic creates an environment primed for success.
During meetings, make sure everyone present has significant input. Also give recognition to members that have an authority in a specific subject and make a point of giving credit when goals and targets have been achieved.
4. Make Board Meetings Enjoyable
For board meetings to be productive, avoid holding bored meetings. It is often the case that long-winded board meetings can be boring, so invigorate energy by making them enjoyable.
Set a welcoming tone from the offset and encourage members to share their thoughts. A light-hearted approach creates a relaxing, productive and satisfying environment.
If you have planned a long meeting of 2-hours or more, take a short tea break. Longer meetings could be planned around lunch to allow members to socialise and build a rapport - especially if you’re joined by non-executive directors that are not involved in the day-to-day running of the organisation.
5. Plan Ahead
Give invitees sufficient time to prepare for meetings. When planning an agenda, assign specific points to members that are best placed to take the lead, and send the agenda out at least 10 days to two weeks in advance.
If someone is expected to give a presentation, give them sufficient time to put a talk together with slides, images, charts, and statistics.
It’s also a good idea to send out an information pack to other members at least 3 days in advance of a presentation so they can get to grips with the subject matter and consider any queries or challenges they may have in advance.
6. Appoint a Chairperson that Takes Control
The chairperson is responsible for making sure the meeting starts on time and finishes on time. Furthermore, they are tasked with making sure that all the talking points are ticked off and reach an agreeable conclusion.
Although Chairs typically have authority over other executive members and are respected, they must have a strong character in order to move the meeting along in accordance with the schedule. They also need to know when to intervene in a debate that is getting out of hand. In these situations, it’s best to recap the pros and cons and put it to the vote.
7. Assign Tasks
High performing boards assign relevant tasks or “homework” to executives. This may be a job that needs performing, tools that need implementing or research that will help the team make a decision in the next meeting.
Take minutes at each meeting to recap which points have been covered and which board members have been assigned a task. It is the chairman’s role to ensure assignments are being carried out successfully.
There really shouldn’t be any secret ingredient to running successful board meetings, but businesses fail when the executive team is unprepared and unproductive. Efficient boards run successful companies.