When most people think about a board meeting, they don’t necessarily equate it with excitement, motivation, or inspiration. In fact, they’re more likely to equate it with heavy winded speeches, complicated reports, and long, boring meetings. You don’t have to leave your board with the same feelings that they’d have after leaving a rousing motivational speaker meeting, but there are some little changes that you can easily make to bring the life back into your board meetings. Read on for 5 ways to invigorate your board meetings.
Keep the mission front and center.
Your organization’s mission is at the heart of your staff and volunteers every day. Because board directors don’t always have as much hands-on experience working for the organization, it’s easy to get distracted from your mission. Board directors need to get better connected with the mission so that all their decision-making is reflected in it.
There are a couple of easy ways to accomplish this. Find ways to make your mission visible. Type it at the top of your agenda. Have your board chair read it out loud at the beginning of every board meeting. Post it on the wall where your board meets.
Give your trustees a personal experience of your mission in action. Recite a testimonial or story about someone who was helped by your organization. Better yet, invite them to come to speak to the board in person. This could be the most powerful subject of the entire meeting.
Encourage ongoing board education.
Many boards are interested in providing ongoing board education. They just don’t know how to get started. There are many business professionals right in your area who often happy to spend a few minutes at your board meetings to speak about such issues as board development, fundraising, finance, and governance.
Find a book, chapter, or article with something meaningful to say to your organization. Buy a copy for each board member and give it as a gift. Come up with a plan to read it together and discuss it at one or more board meetings.
Focus on the broad issues, problems, and challenges. These types of discussions will activate your board members’ various backgrounds and skillsets, as well as pique their interest. It may spark some new ideas while allowing you to draw from a deeper well of your board’s talent and energy. Ultimately, it could be a springboard for greater involvement by the board.
Motivate board members to engage.
Do your board members sit in the exact same seats every time they enter the boardroom? An easy way to shake things up a bit is to move your board members around in the boardroom. People form a comfort level with where they sit and when you force them to move around, you also change their perspective of the room and the people in it.
Ask board members to sign up to make a presentation on different topics of importance to your organization and lead a discussion. This initiative will help to enhance leadership development and it encourages board directors to step up. It’s also a good way to help you identify your next transitional leader.
Look for trends among your past meetings. Try to identify the big-picture issues that are reflected within the routine reports. Decipher what the long-run implications are of certain costs. For example, you might consider asking each board director one important question related to the financial report for discussion or have a discussion on how to double a certain area of funding.
Be cognizant that your main duties as board members are strategic planning and oversight. Your strategic plan should be a fluid document. Another idea is to take each category under your SWOT analysis and review it at least once throughout the year.
Consider tackling some of your bigger challenges in committees or small groups. When the small group gives a report of their findings, the board chair has an opportunity to facilitate a full group discussion. One benefit of small groups is that they encourage full involvement, including input from shy board directors.
Bring in outside speakers for a change of pace.
There’s no end to the types of people you could ask to share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences with your board. As noted, people who’ve been directly impacted by your organization and community professionals are good places to find speakers.
Your staff or volunteers have many stories to tell about the important work they do for the organization and the many ways they’ve seen it have a direct impact on people. These are the stories that often go untold.
Long-term financial supporters of an organization are also good motivators because they enlighten your board about what it means for others to be connected to your organization.
Inviting someone into your boardroom doesn’t necessarily need to be a speaker. It could be a short video of your organization in action.
Another idea is to stage an interview with your executive director. Ask what’s been keeping him or her up at night or what’s been weighing heavily on his or her mind. Some boards find that a 10-minute fireside chat with the executive director at each meeting is enlightening and engaging.
Change up the agenda.
Focus your agenda on results. Look for ways to set up board discussions so that commitment and leadership naturally result. Decide what you need from your board meeting and design your agenda so that you get it. Be sure that your agendas are instrumental in helping you reach your goals.
It’s okay to get creative with your agendas. Look for ways to evoke passion for your cause. Numbers can be dry. Figure out creative ways to humanize them. The results will provide your board with a real sense of what your organization is accomplishing that really makes a difference.
Before your meeting starts, give your board a chance to reprioritize the agenda. They’re likely to pay more immediate attention to things that need to get done rather than sit through routine reporting.
You’ll notice that most of these things require a member of the board to be proactive. Why not consider implementing a BoardEffect board portal system to help streamline many of the routine board processes like meeting planning to free you up to do more important things like putting the life back into your board meetings? The secondary benefit to using BoardEffect is that it will also keep all of your board communications and collaborations secure within one platform. It’s the most effective way to fulfill your board duties while conducting board meetings that are as inspiring as they are productive.