11 Tips for Better (and More Interesting) Board Meetings
Nonprofit board meetings are not universally loved. They can be stressful for some and boring for others. Some boards have cracked the code for great board meetings. We love those boards. Here are some tips today for better board meetings.
1. Ice breakers get a bad rap. They can be hilarious and also helpful in getting to know each other. Commit to using them twice this year and then evaluate.
2. Rotate the job of reading the mission statement at the beginning of every meeting. Ask people to comment on what it means to them and why they joined.
3. Start all meetings on time and end them on time. This will create a norm, and encourage others, to be efficient. Everyone’s time is valuable. Prove it.
4. Always have refreshments. Consider having people bring something they loved from childhood or food from their cultural heritage.
5. Some board members are clueless about budgets and financials but are afraid to ask questions. Create space (emotionally) for folks to ask what the terms/jargon mean. Highlight the key numbers in red or yellow to make things easier for folks.
6. Send board materials out at least a week in advance for review. Suggest in your message that each person should be prepared for questions on the materials. Consider using a “consent agenda” for all board items that don’t require conversation. It is necessary that board members have reviewed this before the meeting. Save important items for the normal agenda.
7. Ask staff to provide recent pictures, news articles, graphics, and other things they are proud of to show the board (not for discussion, just for review).
8. Encourage questions and curiosity without going overboard. The more thoughtful discussion that can be fostered the healthier the flow of communication will be.
9. Make sure everyone feels included. Don’t force anyone to speak if they have nothing to say but make the extra effort to make sure that women, people of color, youth, and new board members feel included.
10. People like socializing opportunities. Create space for pre or post board meeting socializing. If people enjoy coming you will have a stronger organization.
11. Consider optional training opportunities before or after the board meeting. Board members like to learn as much as everyone else. Board meetings can be more enjoyable if they are also a professional or personal development opportunity.
Got other ideas? Send them to me.