Board Meeting Efficiency: A Story About Trampolines

Ah, board meetings. Is there anything better than spending an extended amount of time sitting around a large table with your peers, talking about serious business decisions, important facts and figures, and nebulous future plans? 

Wait, what’s that you’re muttering? Everything? Everything is better than that?

Okay, that’s a fair point. Meetings can be a drag, especially if they slog on for much too long, seem disorganized, or feel unnecessary. Thus, we’ve put together a few pointers for how to run an efficient, engaging meeting, even if you have to go over budget data.

-          Send out board materials and an agenda in advance. This sets expectations and creates immediate structure. Plus, sending the agenda early gives everyone time to review it and jot down any points they want to make or questions they have. This helps board members feel more prepared and eliminates that awkward moment where you say, “Any questions?” and everyone strains to come up with something or fumbles with the right wording. Have extra copies of the agenda and materials available at the meeting, too, just in case.

-          Take a minute to breathe. Before you begin, consider having a minute of silence to allow everyone to settle, focus, and be truly present.

-          Have everyone introduce him or herself. An icebreaker or team building exercise can ease any tension and prepare members to engage in the meeting. This is particularly useful during your first few meetings, when members are still feeling out the group’s dynamic.

-          Let everyone have a say. Make the meeting as interactive as possible by having each board member present their work.

-          Take notes. It’s easy to get so caught up in discussion – and then forget exactly what you said an hour later. Make sure you don’t lose any of the valuable magic you’re making around that table – take detailed minutes. You can refer to these later for a refresher, send them out before the next meeting, or pass them along to any absent members.

-          Express your gratitude. Take the time to thank and recognize each board member for something specific. It’ll give them the warm fuzzies (in a purely professional way, of course). Feeling appreciated helps further engage your board members and makes them more likely to participate in the meeting.

-          Keep it short. Seriously, no one likes long, drawn-out meetings. Make sure your agenda isn’t overwhelming, and avoid going on tangents.

-          End on an inspirational note. The meeting itself should be about action, not just information. What are you doing that’s amazing? What tangible change have you made in someone’s life? A quick personal anecdote can make a big impression. Leave your members feeling ready to take the next step and excited about what’s to come.

-          Hold your meetings at one of those trampoline park places. Nah, just kidding, don’t really do that; it’s a liabilities nightmare. But come on, how fun would that be? At least, until your director of research twists her ankle.

We hope this helps with your next board meeting. May the gods of efficiency and teamwork (they exist, right?) smile upon you!