As board meetings are attended by the top corporate executives and leaders of an organization, they require more planning and detailed preparation than the usual corporate events. Here 5 tips for an effective board meeting:
1. Prepare a clear and specific agenda.
Settle any uncertainty before sending of initial notifications about the meeting. This will avoid last minute changes to the meeting details. But if changes cannot be avoided, immediately send notifications to participants, or call them directly to tell them the changes. Ensure that participants or their secretaries and staff acknowledge that they received notification of the changes or were told so through the phone.
Be sure to send reminders at least once, preferably a day before the meeting is scheduled. This ensures that participants are aware of the meeting so that they can make arrangements or adjustments to their schedule and appointments.
2. Prepare meeting documents, board packs, and other references.
This part can be a challenge to corporate secretariats or administrative staff. First, confirm which documents and files will be needed in the meeting. Note the title of each document, especially the main meeting document; then assign clear reference numbers to them. List the reference numbers of the documents along with their titles in the meeting agenda and then cite them as they will be used in the meeting.
Gather all documents and supporting files for printing. Get the number of participants in the meeting to know how many copies of each document should be printed. Print extra copies to hand out to ad hoc participants or observers. Have other reference materials ready during the meeting, because you’ll never know if they will be asked for. If your company has documented rules that govern the conduct of board meetings, copies of it should always be ready or circulated for a meeting.
Send the board pack to each participant at least 3 days in advance. This will give the participants ample time to review the documents and reference materials. If possible, send the meeting documents at the same time you send the notice of the meeting, or a few days before the meeting.
3. Stick to the agenda.
The Chairman should have control over this; always being aware that the discussion is not straying from the agenda. The Chairman should take charge of the flow of the discussion, sticking to the most important aspects of the agenda, but noting that other points will be discussed in the next meeting. This also ensures that participants don’t waste time on trivial topics, such as minor line items in the financial report, which take more time to settle than the critical strategic items in the agenda. In such cases, the Chairman should be ready to take the floor to keep the meeting in order or express the finality of points or decisions, even if other participants or members are presenting.
4. Ensure that facilities and tools are in order.
Aside from a well-organised venue with good lighting, ventilation, and furniture, other facilities, such as projectors, computers (laptops), microphones, must be in operational condition. An internet connection can be useful for quickly looking up references during the meeting. Traditional, paper-based board meetings should have an ample supply of paper, pens and markers available to participants, who may have to mark or highlight meeting documents, aside from taking down notes. Faulty equipment and tools can be embarrassing and time-consuming, and should be avoided; but incidents such as these are common, so administrators must be ready with spare equipment and tools to replace defective ones. In addition, with the use of electrical and electronic facilities, technical personnel should be on stand by to immediately respond to and repair or replace failed equipment.
5. Record important points and action items and have a secure filing / archiving scheme
All relevant materials about the meeting such as signed contracts, amendments to policies, documented decisions, must be filed or archived in a secure storage facility, whether they are electronic / digital files or physical paper documents. Electronic / digital files should be filed with proper security measures like encryption or password-enabled folders and access control; on the other hand, paper documents should be filed in cabinets and in a room secured by good-ole lock and key.
With these tips in hand, you no longer have an excuse for ineffective board meetings. There’s no lack of resources out there for you to achieve effective meetings.
- Ditch the Boring—5 Tips for Running an Effective Board Meeting (Non-Profit Hub)
- 7 Tips to Run Better Board Meetings (Forbes)
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