Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Want to organize more productive board meetings? Read to find out how!

How long are your board meetings? Are they under an hour or over an hour? Do you get right down to business? Or, do you allow time for personal interaction?

The goal and objective of every board meeting should be to maximize the use of every one's valuable time. So, how do you find a balance between getting business done; personal interaction, and getting the meeting done in under an hour?

Let's explore some of the things that impact the length of a board meeting:

First, there is the agenda. The agenda is the key tool that will determine the length of the meeting. If you limit the agenda items, you will limit the length of your meeting.

Next, what is the meeting's purpose? The purpose of the meeting will also have an impact on time. For example, regularly scheduled board meetings may follow a regular pattern and may be over in an hour, where special meetings, depending on the issues discussed, could be quite long. Retreats and annual meetings can last a whole day or even an entire weekend.

Another factor that impacts the length of a board meeting is the skill and experience of the board chair. The chair must be skilled at keeping the discussion focused and at following the agenda, but is also responsible for getting everyone engaged. There must be a balance of shared ideas and productive conclusions. If there is too little participation the meeting may seem like a presentation from the board chair and if it becomes a lengthy session of endless comments it will appear like the chair has lost control.

Is staff getting the board materials to board members well before the meeting? Do board members come to the meetings well prepared? These are also factors that impact the length of your board meeting. When board members familiarize themselves with the agenda and supporting material ahead of time, meetings are faster and more productive.

Lastly, put your committees to work! Most of the legwork of the board should be done by committees and task forces. This allows the board to focus on what it does best: analyzing recommendations and determining the directives for critical issues.

Thank you to all of the volunteers of the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism! Volunteers are the backbone of every non profit agency. Help your board members help you by making their job easy. Place a very high value on their time and get them back to their office as quickly as possible!

Help me to organize better meetings. What techniques are you using to make your meetings more productive? Please share them with me?

1 comment:

  1. Members of our board have felt strongly that we should do our best to keep board meetings to an hour, but this can be difficult if there are important issues on the agenda. Rather than schedule special meetings or go long, we invite board members to arrive one half hour early to participate in focused discussions. This allows us to deal more efficiently with the issue when it comes up in the agenda. Often our regular meeting concludes in less than an hour and the bonus is that most board members willingly spend a little extra time in our office after the meeting, socializing or being available to our staff for discussing chamber business. They seem less inclined to need to rush away.