Advice for Efficient and Effective Meetings
Effective Board and Committee meetings are one of the key factors that allow a board from operating most efficiently and helps drive better decision-making. As an advisor to boards, I have participated in hundreds of meetings over the years and have observed both efficient and inefficiently run meetings. Ultimately, the meetings that ran most efficiently allowed the Board/Committee to move forward with its agenda and not be distracted by trivial issues that delay decision-making.
Six Actions to Ensure an Efficient Meeting
1. Development of a clear meeting agenda.
2. Provide enough notice and appropriate materials for members to be prepared.
3. Keep the meeting on time and on topic.
4. Ensure each member is able to voice their views and opinions.
5. Ensure that results are accomplished and/or action items identified.
6. Include some social interaction and networking time.
Development of a clear meeting agenda
This includes identifying the topic and issues to be discussed during the meeting, so there is no confusion on the purpose of the meeting. The agenda should also include any actions that are required to be taken by the Board/Committee as part of the meeting (i.e. is a topic “for information only” or “does it require a decision”). Identifying who will lead the discussion of each topic must be added to each agenda item. Lastly, each agenda item should have an associated timing, provided in the agenda, so that Board/Committee members have a sense of the timing and importance of the issues to be discussed.
Provide enough notice and appropriate materials for members to be prepared
Keep the meeting on time and on topic
Ensure each member is able to voice their views and opinions
Ensure that results are accomplished and/or action items identified
Include some social interaction and networking time
It is important that you allow Board/Committee members to have some time outside of the scheduled agenda to interact and network amongst each other. This helps to create a positive atmosphere and culture amongst the Board/Committee which will help ensure that all members feel respected and trust can be built. Many boards will schedule Board dinners the night before/after a Board meeting for all members to interact. This can also be done through scheduling team-building experiences/exercises either between meetings or at strategic off-sites where the Board and management are discussing organizational strategy.
Effective Meetings = Positive Results
Ensuring effective meetings of the boards and its committees is key in making sure that your board is performing at a high level. Effective meetings also lead to an appropriate discussion of all relevant issues and opinions amongst its members before actions are taken. If you find your Board/Committee meetings are less effective, look for signs of this through the factors listed above and ask questions about how you and your board can improve. By looking at what works best in creating effective meetings, you can improve your board’s overall effectiveness which should lead to better decision-making and positive results for your organization.