Better Board Meetings

Meet Smarter: A Guide to Better Nonprofit Board Meetings, Outi Flynn, 2004 BoardSource
Ten Quick Ways to Invigorate Board Meetings: Jan Masaoka, Board Cafe, August 9, 2009

  • Make sure the meeting room is welcoming.
  • Supply name tags for everyone at every meeting. It's embarrassing to have seen people at several meetings and admit you don't know their names.
  • Start on time; end on time.
  • Use icebreakers to set the tone for the meeting. Keep them appropriate to respect the serious-minded peers.
  • Eliminate report reading by using a consent agenda.
  • If the chair is not a good meeting facilitator, tactfully suggest someone else take the lead or rotate the job.
  • Use charts, pictures, or other tools to capture the listeners’ interest and the keep the focus. Don’t allow listeners to read reports during a presentation.
  • Require that the majority of the meeting time be spent on major issues geared toward the future and not on what has already happened.
  • Make sure that each person says at least one thing at every board meeting. This is the board chair's responsibility, but everyone should help.
  • Invite engaging guests and speakers to liven up the discussion.
  • Good meetings have good food. Serve something different each time.
  • When appropriate, have “theme” meetings to cover a main issue in depth. For example, fundraising campaigns or new marketing approaches.
  • Allow for breaks.
  • Use mini-evaluations after every meeting and assign the task to someone to ensure valuable comments are shared, heard, and implemented.

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