Board meetings bring together the board of directors and senior management to discuss strategic plans and make decisions that impact the organization’s future. They allow the board of directors to oversee the company’s performance, they facilitate communication between the board and the senior management team, and they offer an opportunity to discuss succession planning for the future. In short, these meetings require a great deal of carefully arranged parts and are critical for corporate governance.
Running an effective board meeting requires understanding board roles, clarifying objectives of the meeting, and executing effective communication before and after the meeting. Board meetings may also have certain procedures that follow governance rules and are set out in board bylaws. In order to ensure a board meeting is effective, consider the following tips and best practices for running a successful board meeting.
1. Understand the Role of the Board Chair
The board chair plays an important role in running a board meeting. They are responsible for facilitating discussion and ensuring that every board member has an opportunity to speak. They need to allow for differing opinions and perspectives while also keeping discussion brief so the meeting can move forward.
2. Ensure Board Members Know Their Role
A well-run board meeting requires the participation of all board members. Directors need to be disciplined in identifying one or two challenges or comments they wish to make and avoid piling on too many comments that could prolong discussions. Directors should also prepare and submit topics they wish to discuss in advance. This gives the chair a chance to decide which items to address during the meeting and which can be addressed in other ways or at another time.
3. Effective Before and After Communication
The board chair should make time for pre-meeting calls with directors to discuss what will be covered at the meeting, what challenges to think about, and what they hope to accomplish. An effective chair will give the board no more than one or two items to discuss, as adding more will make the meeting ineffective. After the meeting, the chair should check in with all board members to reconvene and clarify any misunderstandings. This is also a great time to reinforce clarity and responsibilities as well as offer any assistance that may be needed.
4. Board Meetings Should Follow an Agenda
Effective board meetings generally follow a classic agenda:
- Call meeting to order- ensure you have quorum
- Approve the agenda and prior meeting minutes
- Executive and committee reports- key topic discussions
- Old, new, or other business
- Close the meeting and adjourn
The chair usually begins the meeting with a short recap of the focus of the meeting and key points for discussion. As the meeting begins, the chair acts as the facilitator and ensures that the allotted time is spent on each topic. The chair is responsible for keeping the discussion moving forward and ensuring that all members are actively engaged in the discussion.
5. Provide All Materials in Advance
Nothing ruins a meeting faster than time wasted looking for materials. Effective board meetings require timely distribution of materials and clear communication of the agenda at least 3-4 days in advance. This may take weeks of preparation beforehand to ensure that all materials are ready to be distributed on time.
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