Research on meeting productivity reveals that leaders are spending increasing amounts of time in meetings. Research also reveals that the majority of time devoted to meetings is viewed as unproductive.
My own research into nonprofit board performance issues has found that when board members attend unproductive meetings, they feel their time is being wasted. And it can’t be a surprise that that feeling of wasted time is a significant contributor to board members becoming disengaged.
Facing the cold, hard facts, how would you evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings? Do they turn on–or turn off–participants?
Are your meetings disorganized or poorly run? Do they have no compelling purpose? Do they fail to encourage active discussion? Volunteers want their opinions to be valued and the investment of their time to result in positive outcomes.
Here are two signs that your meetings are perceived as ineffective. First, you have poor attendance. Second, those who do show up don’t participate well because they are not prepared. They haven’t reviewed meeting materials in advance because the meeting isn’t important enough to them to invest more time than they already are by attending.
Make your board meetings matter with these five tips.
• Ensure that meetings are well planned and your chair is prepared.
• Structure agendas so that time is devoted to priority topics such as the status of a strategic goal or a challenge that board insight could help resolve.
• Welcome dialogue and questions. Encourage the use of good facilitation techniques by your meeting chair to ensure that everyone participates. Provide chairs with facilitator training if needed.
• Allow for social interaction either before or after your meetings. Everyone likes opportunities to socialize and this important activity helps reinforce personal connections. Among volunteers those relationships are often the reason they stay engaged with their board service.
• Solicit board member suggestions on how to improve meetings so that they stimulate excitement and are not to be missed.
Making your meetings matter will motivate board members to attend. They will know that their time is being respected, their opinions are being considered, and their commitment is producing worthwhile outcomes.
What other suggestions can you share for making sure board meetings are motivating for participants and producing positive results?
(IOM faculty member Hardy Smith is a consultant and speaker who works with organizations who want an ongoing culture of performance. His book, Stop Frustration with Nonprofit Boards, will be published in 2019. Learn more about Hardy by visiting his website www.hardysmith.com. Follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/HardySmith1 )