Monday, June 11, 2012

15 Tips for Better Board/Committee Meetings: Ideas from NE-SAE Annual Conference and a whole lot more

Premise: Board time is a non-renewable resource ... Don't let it be wasted!

Question: How do we enhance the time spent in board or committee meetings?


  1. Never hold a meeting without an agenda.
  2. Agendas should have a precise starting and ending times such as 10:01 am or 7:29 pm... My staff used to call this CDT or Central drake time! 
  3. List mission prominently on agenda. 
  4. Show strategy or work plan element of each item on agenda. 
  5. Use a consent agenda ... Routine items (minutes, committee reports, metrics, financial reports) can be placed in consent and assumed approved unless a director wants it added to the discussion agenda. 
  6. Place key strategic items at beginning of the agenda. 
  7. Find time on agenda for board members to "check in" with what they are observing that relates to the association. Some call this an environmental scan. 
  1. Take time in meetings to celebrate organizational victories or personal “kudos.” 
  2. Words matter: establish a culture to eliminate negative words that dampen discussion and creativity ... (a) Yes, but; (b) Just playing the devil's advocate. 
  3. Before any brainstorming, play the yes, but game or other similar Exercises to open up minds. In “Yes, but,” members pair up and plan a birthday party whereby one suggests an idea for the party and their party answers, “Yes but …” After a couple of minutes; switch to the “Yes, and” exercise. Same two partners only this time when the first suggests a party idea, her/his partner responds “Yes, and we could also do this …” 
  4. Ensure that board conducts a self-evaluation survey annually. Use a survey tool that allows them to share concerns honestly. Someone on the board (president-elect or past president) or a staff member, receives the surveys and tabulates the results (without names). The board devotes board time to review and analyze. 
  5. Some boards conduct a 10-15 minute self analysis at the end of each board meeting. Each board member answers two “how did we do” questions: (a) What did we do/accomplish today that really went well? (b) Where could have we done better? 
  6. Ensure committees have clear assignments/roles and be sure they don't overstep. 
  7. Ensure board members clearly understand their legal & fiduciary responsibilities. 
  8. Keep board minutes simple and focused on actions taken. Minutes should record motions (don’t put who made it). Do not include verbatim notes and comments made during discussion. See this great Association Trends article (Don’t Get Too Wordy with Board Meeting Minutes)  for more details about minutes. 
What would you add to make the most of your Board’s limited time?  

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