(This is not the way to hold a board meeting). A board meeting is not a social meeting. It’s not a time to gossip, to socialize, or to promote a personal agenda. It’s a business meeting. And if your board meetings are lasting longer than two hours–with nothing accomplished–then something is wrong. Maybe it’s the environment. Maybe it’s disorganization. Maybe it’s a lack of leadership.
Unproductive meetings create unproductive boards. They increase frustration, destroy morale, and make it harder to recruit volunteers. They also waste everyone’s time.
Here’s how you can hold an effective, efficient board meeting.
Before The Meeting
- Define the purpose of the meeting.
- Develop an agenda in cooperation with key participants.
- Distribute the agenda and circulate background material, lengthy documents or articles prior to the meeting so members will be prepared and feel involved and up-to-date.
- Choose an appropriate meeting time. Set a time limit and stick to it, if possible. Remember, members have other commitments. They will be more likely to attend meetings if you make them productive, predictable and as short as possible.
- Use visual aids for interest (e.g., posters, diagrams, etc.). Post a large agenda up front to which members can refer.
- Vary meeting places if possible to accommodate different members. Be sure everyone knows where and when the next meeting will be held.
- Start on time. End on time.
- Review the agenda and set priorities for the meeting.
- Stick to the agenda.
- Encourage group discussion to get all points of view and ideas. You will have better quality decisions as well as highly motivated members; they will feel that attending meetings is worth their while.
- Encourage feedback. Ideas, activities and commitment to the organization improve when members see their impact on the decision making process.
- Keep conversation focused on the topic. Feel free to ask for only constructive and non- repetitive comments. Tactfully end discussions when they are getting nowhere or becoming destructive or unproductive.
- Keep minutes of the meeting for future reference in case a question or problem arises.
- Write up and distribute minutes within 3 or 4 days. Quick action reinforces importance of meeting and reduces errors of memory.
- Put unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting.
While the structure of a meeting is also determined by the association documents and state statutes, associations have the power to run productive meetings. Let the agenda guide your meetings–not your doughnut supply.