Out of all the meetings that regularly take place in a workplace, the board meeting may be the one in greatest need of a rebrand. The stereotypical held view is that these meetings tend to be . . . well . . . boring. But that need not be the case.
Now, I’m not the one saying that every single board meetings need a complete facelift but the general belief that meetings tend to be dull certainly extends to board meetings. However, as with dailies, weeklies, brainstorming sessions, and workshops, things can be improved with a few easy steps. Obviously, we want to ensure that your next board meetings will be as thorough as possible so we won’t be suggesting some revolutionary change - so no need to worry.
What we will be suggesting are some changes you can make before your meeting even kicks off. Your board meeting agenda can help set the tone. So without further ado, let’s dive right in and change bored meetings to board meetings! Ok, no more bad puns.
An agenda is a list of topics and activities that will be covered in an upcoming meeting. The agenda should list ordered discussion points or actions with varying degrees of detail. Some agendas will need to be formal and have a detailed breakdown of how long each activity will take as well as who is responsible for each section of the meeting.
More informal meeting agendas can list a series of potential issues to be discussed as a series of bullet points or notes.
Regardless of how detailed and whether the agenda is informal or formal, what is consistent is that they are documents sent in advance to everyone that will be attending the meeting with up-to-date information.
The best board meeting agendas will be thorough enough to define the plan and time limits for each matter, well put together so board members are as briefed as possible, and sent out far enough in advance for board members to review them, offer feedback, and make changes.
Something important to note is that a good agenda should be clear and to the point. It need not read like a world-class novel, nor does it need to read like matter-of-fact technical documentation; it should be clear, easy to understand, and to the point. Include as much information as is necessary to be completely transparent but not so much information that it turns into an essay.
We actually have a free-to-download template if you need some inspiration!
Ok, we have seen what an agenda is but the next question we want to tackle is how you can craft a more engaging meeting agenda. Ideally, you want to send out something that will keep everyone up-to-date and informed but will also be ready to dive into proceedings.
Sending an agenda nice and early can be beneficial for several reasons. First of all, you give your board members plenty of time to prep but you also give them more time to come up with suggestions, adjustments, ideas, and feedback on your current agenda.
The more input you can gather and good suggestions you can put together, the less time you need to spend on a ‘Changes to the Agenda’ section during the meeting itself. Also, you will better understand how members want to prioritize certain issues when they would prefer to discuss certain new business, and at what point they may need a break.
Think of this as an iterative process; the first agenda you send out may just be a draft of what is finalized. This will lead to a more collaborative decision that satisfies the desires and needs of those who will eventually be working through the agenda.
Board meetings can be extensive and cover a large number of topics and in-depth discussion points. So it is best to be comprehensive when putting together the agenda for the meeting. Be sure to include all relevant documentation and resources that may provide additional context and clarification.
Including a purpose for each of the agenda items is a great place to start. Be critical and consider the why; ‘Why are we covering this particular issue, and what purpose does this serve?’
Likewise, use the minutes from previous meetings to estimate how long each area within the agenda may take from the ‘Call to Order to New Business’. The benefit of doing so is that members can better prepare for the upcoming meeting and ask to move more demanding or time-consuming tasks around as they see fit.
People’s attention spans and energy levels usually peak early in meetings. Fatigue does set in after a while and while it differs for each of us, meeting fatigue is real. Trying to concentrate for extended periods can be draining if not outright impossible.
Consider this when putting together your agenda and try to address important and pertinent issues early on. Highlighting this in the agenda means that board members know that they won’t be sitting around waiting for the real guts of the meeting to take place towards the very end of the scheduled time.
If you want something to be engaging, no matter if it’s a presentation or an agenda, you need to be concise and, at times, spartan with the amount of information you include. This may seem counter to the earlier point about being comprehensive but they go hand in hand.
Now we are not advocating for you to do the bare minimum but you need to strike a balance between the two. For example, adding extra documentation alongside the agenda rather than jammed into the agenda itself is one thing you can do. This point is most likely to take some time and practice to perfect.
We talked about making this a collaborative experience so why not take that to the next level by asking for feedback on your previous agendas? Were they detailed enough? Were they overwhelming and a clutter of information? If you want to make an engaging agenda then the best people to ask about it may be those who are going to read it.
Each board is different, as are the members. Understanding their preferences and how they like to operate is one of the easiest ways to make anything more efficient, engaging, and effective. So don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and use it as a foolproof way to improve.
When it comes to what exactly you should include in our agenda than the standard structure that many companies and boards it tried and tested. These agendas will consist of (but not be limited to):
So we have started on the right foot. Now the next step is to go and run an engaging and effective meeting. If you need help with any kind of presentation or meeting then we just happen to have the right tool for you. Mentimeter can help transform any presentation or slide deck into something that draws your audience in and interacts with them from start to finish.