Board meetings are essential to the operations of not-for-profit organizations (and most other organizations too). From getting to see colleagues and peers in person, moving business proceedings forward, setting policy and problem-solving – and you may even get the added bonus of a travel opportunity! As association management professionals, part of our role is to work with the boards of the associations we work with to ensure that meetings are productive, collaborative and engaging! Here are some tips and tricks to incorporate into your next board meeting:
1) Send out a Board Meeting Package
Preparation is key. Attendees should be provided with board materials including an agenda and financials a week in advance that are concise, clear, and relevant. This is important to ensure that everyone arrives prepared and on the same page in order to keep the discussion strategic. This eliminates the need to spend crucial time during the meeting providing basic updates and will foster more meaningful discussions with follow up questions and new business ideas.
2) Bond over Breakfast
Get to know who you are working with. This new addition to your board meeting will help to build trust and camaraderie, resulting in more honest dialog, productive group problem-solving and supportive collaboration. At the start of your next board meeting, incorporate a short “getting to know each other” activity. Whether it be showing an interesting video clip or telling a story, it will be a great tool to ensure that everyone is “present” for the meeting and ready to actively contribute.
3) Embrace Technology
Whether incorporating video-conferencing for out of town members or using touchscreens to your advantage, technology introduces a variety of ways to increase engagement at board meetings leading to more interactive participants. Through this avenue, digital content can be shared, ongoing projects can be displayed, and new ideas can be presented in a more appealing way. Getting lots of information in the same format can be draining and since our brains are hardwired to respond to visuals, they have a higher chance at being remembered.
4) Guest Attendee / Board Training
Innovative new ideas in the industry? Need more expertise on a proposed business idea, or training in a particular area in your board governance? A speaker or facilitator provides a great opportunity for board members to get smarter on a new topic and oftentimes these lessons can be applied to future business decisions. Another effective way to utilize a guest speaker is to offer a mini training session to assist board members in becoming more effective in their roles. Topics that you can include in your next board meeting include: inclusivity and diversity (see here for a recent workshop Redstone attended hosted by Egale), emerging trends in nonprofit management and even how to incorporate technology into your business more effectively.
Try and integrate a couple of these into your next board meeting to increase engagement, have members be more deeply educated about the organization and have board members leave feeling inspired! Do you have any engaging meeting ideas you want to share? Comment below!