7 Tips for Surviving Your Next Board Meeting

If you're dreading your next board meeting, you're not alone. Despite being an essential part of any company's governance, board meetings can be tedious, frustrating, and downright pointless. After all, there is nothing pleasant about being in a room full of people paid to criticize your work. Fortunately, there are ways to make these activities more productive, efficient, and even enjoyable. Here are some tips to get you started.

7 Tips for Surviving Your Next Board Meeting

Work life: board meetings

Most people assume board meetings are only for big businesses or large international enterprises. That couldn't be further from the truth! Such formal get-togethers are also essential for medium and small businesses and can help any company get to the next level. So, what exactly is a board meeting, and how can it benefit a company?

What is the meaning of a board meeting?

Simply put, a board meeting is a formal gathering of a corporate board of directors - a group of people elected by the shareholders of a company to oversee the management of this company. These meetings are typically held quarterly or semi-annually and are used to discuss the business strategy, operations, and finances. Such events are also a good time for the directors to ask questions and get clarification from management on various issues.

Meetings of board chairs are typically led by the CEO or executive director, and all attendees are given the opportunity to speak and share their thoughts. Agenda items are usually decided in advance and often include things like financial reports, updates on key projects, and discussion of any new initiatives.

What's the purpose?

In terms of their role in the workflow, board meetings serve as a forum in which directors share their insights and expertise and make decisions about the direction of the company. Such sessions also provide an opportunity for superiors to hold the management team accountable for the company's performance.

There are many different types of board meetings, but all of them serve the same purpose: to help the company make better decisions.

What are the benefits?

By now, most businesses have realized the importance of holding regular board meetings. So what are their advantages?

  • Allow directors to share their ideas and perspectives on various issues
  • Facilitate decision-making on important company matters
  • Help to ensure that all directors are doing their jobs properly
  • Give each member a chance to get to know others better and build relationships
  • Help identify potential problems early and prevent them from escalating into more serious problems later on

When to arrange?

Given recent research on how much time executives spend in meetings (50%!), it's crucial to choose the right time to set up a board chair meeting.

So when is the best time to organize a board meeting? The answer depends on the current situation of the company and the pressing issues that need to be addressed. If your board is large and has many members, you might need to gather more often to ensure everyone has a chance to participate. Alternatively, if your committee is small and only meets a few times a year, you might be able to get by with less frequent meetings. In general, it's advisable to have at least four board meetings per year. However, if there are urgent matters that need to be discussed, an emergency appointment can be called at any time.

Moreover, you should consider the timing of your gatherings concerning your company's business cycle. If you're a startup, you might need to meet more often in the early stages to make sure everything is going according to plan. Alternatively, if you're a more established company, you might be able to meet less often as all your work processes are better organized.

Management: how to conduct a board meeting?

You organize a board meeting, or your boss calls one and asks you to present. You're confident in your abilities, but still want to make sure you're adequately prepared. Here's a quick overview of what you need to know to ensure the meeting goes off without a hitch.

Basic procedures

There are a few basic procedures to follow when conducting a board meeting. First, you should send out a notice to all board members at least two weeks before the appointment. This announcement should include the date, time, and location of the event, as well as an agenda. As for the agenda, you should also develop it in advance. This will give all the directors time to review the materials and prepare any questions they may have.

Read more about announcements here.

That's about the preparation. Now let's discuss how to run a board meeting itself. The first order of business in any event of this type is to approve the minutes from the previous gathering. Once that is done, the board can move on to other matters on the agenda.

Usually, the attendees will discuss any new business that has come up since the last directors' meeting. This is when the members can voice their opinions and offer their input on various matters.

After that, the board will typically go over any old business that needs to be revisited.

Finally, the host will adjourn the meeting and schedule the next one.

Agenda creation

One of the most crucial things in arranging effective board meetings is setting an agenda. A well-thought-out plan will ensure all the important topics are covered and the conversation moves in the right direction. Here are a few tips on how to set a good one:

1) Start with the basics. The agenda should include the date, time, and location of the event, as well as the names of the board directors who will attend it.

2) Add a brief overview. This should include the purpose of the gathering and the desired outcome.

3) Add a list of topics to discuss. Make sure to include both big-picture and smaller, more specific items. It'll also be a good idea to prioritize them by order of importance.

Find more tips and discover the true meaning of the agenda here. Free templates included!

Chairing and other roles

Your company's board meetings are essential events where important decisions are made about the future of the business. Therefore, it's crucial to maintain effective board meeting management.

When you host such an event, you'll need to fill a few different roles to ensure a successful board meeting with excellent results:

1) The chairperson

They are responsible for keeping the meeting on track and providing all members with a chance to contribute. They should also control that participants are not distracted from the task at hand or sidetracked.

2) The recorder

They take the minutes of the meeting and keep track of any important decisions made.

3) The treasurer

They are responsible for reviewing the financial reports and ensuring the board is aware of the company's financial health.

4) The attendees

They participate in the discussion, provide input, and help make decisions.

Top 7 tips for running a board meeting like a PRO

We think you've learned by now that an effective board meeting is an integral part of keeping any business on track. By coming together to discuss pressing issues and review progress, board members play a vital role in ensuring the company is moving in the right direction.

But sometimes board meetings can be a source of stress, especially if you haven't prepared properly. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your next board meeting and keep stress to a minimum.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare

No matter how big or small your board is, each member should do their homework before the session begins. Board meeting preparation doesn't have to be onerous, but it's crucial. Here are three tips to ace your next meeting and make a great impression on others:

1) Make sure you understand the agenda and materials. Read them thoroughly in advance, so you can come to the meeting ready to discuss the issues at hand.

2) Study the topics to be discussed. This will help you be more informed and engaged in the discussion.

3) Reach out to other directors or board members in advance to get their perspectives. This will help you make the most of the meeting and ensure all voices are heard.

2) Be an active listener

Whether you're the chair of the board or a new member, active listening is key to successful board get-togethers. By definition, active listening is "a way of listening and responding to another person that improves communication and understanding." In other words, it's all about being present and engaging with what the other person is saying.

There are a few simple things you can do to become a better active listener:

1) Make eye contact and give the other person your full attention.

2) Try to see the situation from their perspective.

3) Don't interrupt and allow distractions to pull you away from the conversation.

Active listening takes practice, but it's a valuable skill to have in any setting - especially in board meetings.

3) Speak up when it counts

Remember one simple thing: don't be afraid to speak up. Board meetings are a great opportunity to share your ideas and get feedback from other members. If you're ever unsure about something, just ask. Chances are, someone else is probably wondering the same thing. Your fellow board members will appreciate your input, and it could make a difference in the decision-making process.

4) Keep an open mind

In any organization, it's important to keep an open mind - especially during board meetings. After all, these are the appointments where critical decisions are made that can shape the future of the company. It's important to be aware of your own bias and to give everyone a chance to have their say.

Here are a few tips to help you keep an open mind:

  • Be aware of your own bias
  • Listen to all sides of the argument
  • Don't make snap decisions
  • Take time to consider all options
  • Seek input from all members of the board

5) Get ready to tough questions

No matter how well you prepare for a meetup, there's always the chance you'll be caught off guard by a tough question. But don't worry, here is our top strategy to deal with them elegantly:

  1. Take a deep breath and try to relax. This will help think more clearly and give you the confidence you need to answer the question.
  2. Take a moment to collect your thoughts. This way, you provide yourself with a chance to give the best answer possible.
  3. Be honest and candid in your answer. Other guests will appreciate your honesty and it'll help build trust between you and the board.

6) Take advantage of technology

When technology is used to its full potential, board meetings can be much more effective. Hence, such software as Nasdaq Boardvantage or Aprio can help you keep track of conference materials, deadlines, and documents. And if you're working with a remote board, video conferencing software like Whoosh or GoToMeeting can help you stay connected.

Another great way to use technology to prep for board meetings is to create a board portal. It's a secure online space where you can store and share the materials you need. It's a great way to keep everyone in the loop and make sure every board member has the most up-to-date materials.

7) Create some helpful documents

Leading a board meeting doesn't have to be stressful. With a little time spent on writing, you can make sure it goes smoothly. Here are some things that can help:

  • Create meeting announcements. Let other participants know when and where the event will be held, and what will be covered.
  • Take minutes. Keep a record of what is discussed and decided during the meeting. This will be helpful for follow-up and future reference.
  • Jot down notes. Write down the key points and action items so that you can easily recall later everything that was discussed.
  • Prepare check-in questions. Get everyone involved by asking questions and soliciting input.
  • Send follow-up emails. After the meeting, send an email to the board members with minutes, next steps, and any other significant information.

Read more about these types of documents on our helpful blog:

Popular ideas for board meetings

If you're looking for some cool ideas to make your next meeting more interesting, engaging, and productive, here are a few ideas that have proven to be popular with many organizations:

  • Encourage board members to arrive early and socialize with each other before the meeting starts. This can help build rapport and trust between participants.
  • Start the meeting with an icebreaker or a team-building activity. This way, everyone will get to know each other better and be more relaxed and open to discussion.
  • Make it interactive. Get everyone involved in the discussion by asking questions and soliciting input from all members.
  • Encourage open and honest dialogue between board members. This can help build a more cohesive and effective team.
  • Take breaks. If people start to get restless, take a break to allow people to stretch their legs or grab a coffee. Playing a short game is also a great idea.

Final thoughts

If you want to make a real impact on your career, start attending (and even chairing) board meetings. These are the ones where some of the most important decisions in business are made, so it's a great way to get involved in the inner workings of your company. Also, attending these events will help you build key relationships with other leaders in your field.

So what are you waiting for? Just go ahead and organize one! Our team believes in you.

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