Four Savvy Tips On How to Increase Board Meeting Effectiveness
As the old saying goes, time is money.
Yet, when it comes to meetings in the workplace, the “time is money” mantra seems to get thrown out the window. Too often is it that unprepared speakers seemingly wing it and make the same points over and over again.
It might seem unfair to call unproductive, meandering meetings an epidemic, but they waste more than $37 billion per year. At the very least, that’s a number that should raise a few eyebrows.
Of course, that’s not a stat that strictly encompasses board meetings. Still, such gatherings aren’t immune to the pitfalls of time-wastage.
In fact, given the big-picture, high-priority nature, meaningless minutes are more detrimental in board meetings than anything else.
This isn’t some DEFCON emergency scenario begging for boards to flip themselves upside down to make a change. However, it’s always worth investigating where amendments can be made to save time and make meetings leaner—encouraging productive discussions over empty chatter.
Read below for helpful tips on how to improve the effectiveness of board meetings:
Provide a Framework or Agenda for Each Meeting
This tip is something that many individuals discuss or put out there in the ether, but rarely is there anything concrete or set in stone.
Agendas are an integral part of meetings that prevent clock-watching and disengagement. It seems like common sense but having a “theoretical” agenda in one’s mind is entirely different than distinctly laying one out for everyone.
Defining a minute-by-minute framework for each meeting will keep discussions more to the point.
Plus, directors will be more engaged because putting each topic on the clock will create something of a sense of urgency.
Whereas keeping everyone in the dark on time might encourage babbling and rambling because less preparation will go into talking points. A concrete plan written out on a whiteboard (or board software) with a clear objective will keep attending board members on point. This will lead to improving board meeting effectiveness.
Value Everyone’s Time
Meetings should be scheduled to begin and end at a set time. More specifically, they should stay true to both of those times.
Directors are generally busy, and every last minute they have is incredibly important to them. As such, fellow board members should be treating one another’s time with respect.
For the above reason, when board members arrive late to meetings, it creates an adverse chain reaction. First and foremost, if there was an agenda in place, the conference might run late to reach every talking point. It’s only natural for those involved to become disengaged after it’s been shown that their time isn’t valued.
Or, conversely, if the meeting must end at the scheduled time, it ensures that not every point gets the required discussion time. Meaning, the conference isn’t going to be nearly as productive as it should have been.
The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that while board meetings are integral to the business, directors have other priorities. Board meetings that start and end late show a disregard for the schedules of all involved.
End on a High Note
There’s something to be said for leaving things on a high note.
A meeting is run in a ship-shape fashion but ends on a somewhat forgettable note. That’s not to say it’s on a bad note. But nothing that reflects the productive conversations throughout.
No, this isn’t the end of the world, but it’s kind of like doing a triple backflip and not sticking the landing. It’s a missed opportunity to inspire and get everyone thinking positively about the direction of the company and how they’ll contribute.
Whereas, ending a meeting in a way that ties an overarching message together and leaves a lasting impression will inspire board members into action.
Which leads to the next tip…
Have a Rallying Cry
Speaking of the “action,” one of the most ideal ways to inspire directors at the end of a board meeting is with a call to action.
For instance, Shellye Archambeau, chief executive of MetricStream, ends her meetings with the question of, “Who’s got the ball?”
Such phraseology gives off a sense of accountability and the idea that the success of the company rests on board members’ shoulders. It also acts as a rallying cry that ensures everyone remains committed to the cause.
Always Aim to Improve Board Meeting Effectiveness
At the end of the day, we don’t know what’s going on in your meetings. And, by all means, if it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it.
But nothing’s perfect, and everything can be improved upon—which is possible to accomplish without trying to reinvent the wheel. See where little tweaks can be made so that the board meeting process can be as beneficial to the organization as possible.
And yes, the points discussed above are all quite straightforward. Yet, it’s eye-opening how much they can contribute to board meeting effectiveness.