21 DOs & DON’Ts In A Board Meeting
‘Bad’ meetings are something that every working individual has faced. And that is a sad fact. There are all types of meeting members – the ones who arrive late to meetings and those who take over the discussion and waste time. For any meeting to be successful, every participant must follow some basic meeting etiquette. In this article we listed down the 21 important DOs and DON’Ts in a board meeting.
What Is A Board Meeting?
A board meeting is a recurrent and formal gathering of members in a corporation’s governing body. Most organizations, whether public, private, profit or non-profit, are overseen by a Board of Directors. During these meetings, the body discusses financial presentations, strategic & operational reviews or issues, and requests for approvals.
Generally, a Board of Directors comprises top executives of a firm, working as directors and business owners elected by stakeholders. Industry experts and other outside individuals can also be elected as members of the board.
However, with changing business practices and company structures, top management meetings can also be deemed — on some levels — as board meetings.
A board meeting has a Chairman who presides over and a Secretary who is tasked with guaranteeing with documentation of all the decisions made during the meeting. The board meeting is responsible for taking ultimate business decisions that can’t be passed down the chain.
DOs & DON’Ts
Here is the primary list of 21 DOs and DON’Ts of a board meeting:
Order of Items:
- DO set an agenda that is realistic and thorough
- DON’T focus on all the difficult items at the start
- DO put routine items to the top of the agenda to get the discussion started.
- DO alternate between easy and complicated items
- DON’T send pre-meeting information in different email threads
- DO circulate agenda items to all participants a week in advance
- DO send out all reports participants will discuss during the meeting
- DO note which items require a vote or a discussion
- DON’T let anyone hijack or derail the meeting
- DO keep all participants focus on business at hand
- DON’T leave out action items for any item
- DO make a separate consent agenda for items that don’t require discussion or debate
- DON’T spring surprises during the meeting
- DO present your observation within time to ensure you cover everything on the agenda
- DON’T try and fit in something which can be carried over to your next meeting
- DO circulate your exhaustive presentations/proposals beforehand
- DON’T overburden your presentations or proposals
- DO set some time for socializing before & after the meeting
- DON’T allow irrelevant conversations during the meeting
Delegation of Tasks
- DO hold groups or people accountable for certain items on the agenda
- DON’T assign task to someone who isn’t the right fit for it
If you are looking for tips to improve the way you conduct meetings of every kind, read my blog on ‘Your Guide To Successful Business Meetings’
Order of Items:
You can call it order of items or schedule or calendar or agenda – every meeting must have a list of meeting activities in order of priority. But, the order of items is one crucial aspect of board meetings. Keep it precise and realistic. Adding too many things on the agenda can backfire. Either there won’t be enough time to discuss all the items, or the meeting will go on till late causing everyone inconvenience. Also, members, in an attempt to close everything, might end up having rushed and half-baked discussions.
Another best practice is to send the order of items to all the participants in advance. This will help them have a clear understanding of business at hand. Also, ask the participants to share all the reports, proposals and presentations beforehand. This way, they’ll have enough time to prepare, and the meeting will be perfectly streamlined.
As mentioned earlier, board meetings are held to make necessary operation and strategic decisions. In such scenarios, the discussions could go longer than expected or necessary. As a moderator — if you’re not one then assign one — should bring everyone back on track. Never let anyone or just one agenda item hijack the meeting.
Topics that need to be voted on should be highlighted separately. All the reports and necessary material for the same should already be circulated with the participants beforehand. Remember, board meetings are bad places to spring surprises. All the board members should be aware of what they’re walking into. They don’t appreciate being blindsided or misinformed.
Board members are the key people of a corporation. And it becomes crucial that their time isn’t wasted. Remember to do this even before the board meeting is scheduled. Take consensus from each member of the board so that you don’t get last minute drop-outs. Once you schedule the meeting, the next important aspect is agenda. It is pivotal that you list items keeping in mind the time you have. Too many things on an agenda is as bad as too few items. It is considered wise to break down the meeting time into smaller sessions – presentations, brainstorming, and voting or decision making. Circulate the same as a subsection in your agenda.
Another area where a lot of time gets wasted is long reports or presentations. Instead you can have the long presentations and reports shared with all the stakeholders beforehand. This way everyone will get enough time to study them and directly get down to the discussions during the meeting.
Board meetings comprise members who don’t get to meet too often, and these meetings become those rare occasions when they come together. For this reason, pad meetings with socializing time before and after the core discussion. It will help reduce irrelevant conversations and be less of a distraction for other members in the conference room.
To save time, you can conduct virtual meetings using easy-to-use conferencing solutions:
grptalk is an audio conferencing app that eliminates the need of internet and hardware to conduct large-scale audio conferences. With grptalk, you can connect with up to 10,000 participants on a single call.
TelebuJoin is a video conferencing solution using which you can set up a virtual meeting in just three steps. With features like screen-sharing and group chat, collaboration is as easy as blinking.
Delegation of Tasks
There will be multiple agenda items and it can be tedious for one person to run points for all of them. To put it mildly, it will mostly lead to undesired outcomes. Therefore, it’s important to make a group or different people accountable for various business orders. However, selecting who to assign a task to is critical. Don’t assign a task to someone who wouldn’t be able to execute it.
Board meetings are one of the most important business meetings your business will host. All your crucial business decisions — finances, strategy and operations — are taken in that room. Hence, absolute care and effort should go into how you plan and execute board meetings.
Also, the above 21 Dos and Don’ts stand good for any other business meeting you need to host. Do you follow these Dos and Don’ts for all your meetings? Comment below to tell us how you conduct meetings.