Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Board Meeting

Whether your organization is on a national scale with board members across the country or is a local chapter with board members in close proximity, your team can benefit from hosting virtual board meetings.

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many organizations like yours are facing challenging decisions and likely need some guidance from their boards. That’s why the ability to shift communications online is crucial. While virtual board meetings can help you navigate the current situation, their value extends beyond the pandemic.

Having the option to move online makes it easy for board members to attend meetings under nearly any circumstances. Plus, the extra time saved from traveling can be reinvested in high-priority projects, board work, and fundraising goals. However, these benefits are only reachable when meetings are run effectively.

So that you get the most out your virtual board meetings, we’ll explore 4 key tips that work for any organization:

  1. Send out dynamic board meeting agendas.

  2. Take effective minutes.

  3. Add a face-to-face element with video.

  4. Create actionable next steps.

With social distancing guidelines in full effect, it’s critical for organizations of all sizes to shift communications online and effectively sustain operations. Backed by the right board management tools, running your virtual meetings will be a breeze. Ready to explore our top tips for hosting a successful virtual board meeting? Let’s jump in!

Tip 1: Send out dynamic board meeting agendas.

At the core of any successful virtual board meeting is a well-written, organized agenda. It serves as the roadmap for the chair and the overall driving force for your virtual meetings. Because of their importance, it takes more than just listing a few agenda items and calling it a day.

There are several components to an effective agenda. As you start creating one for your next virtual board meeting, put these practices at the forefront of your strategy:

  • Provide time limits for each item. Designating a time duration is key for keeping your board meetings focused and productive—virtual or not! When the end of the allotted time period for a topic is approaching, board members will know it’s time to wrap up discussion and move on to the next agenda item.

  • List the most important agenda items first. Turning your meeting agenda upside down enables you to effectively cover the most important topics first. Plus, the beginning of your board meeting is when attendees are most motivated and ready to participate.

  • Note the purpose of each topic. Is it meant to inform, seek information, or make a decision? Indicate this next to each agenda item. Otherwise, you may arrive at your desired conclusion without realizing it and ultimately waste time with unnecessary extra discussion.

Once you’ve created a strong agenda with actionable topics, you’ll want to share it well in advance of your virtual meeting. This gives attendees sufficient time to prepare, especially if there are documents they’ll need to review to hold an enhanced discussion.

While these actionable best practices will serve as your core foundation, this is only the tip of the iceberg. To continue your research, explore Boardable’s guide to developing dynamic board meeting agendas.

Tip 2: Take effective minutes.

Minutes serve to memorialize your board’s discussions, track progress toward goals, detail future plans, and inform those who were unable to attend. Not only this but should an issue ever arise, your minutes will serve as an official legal record of your board meeting.

Because of their value, the task of taking minutes should not be taken lightly. To craft effective and clear minutes, there are some actionable steps that your secretary should take, such as:

  • Write for readers five years into the future. Years down the line, there’s a chance that none of your existing board members will be there to explain the rationale behind discussion topics and key decisions made during a meeting. Be concise, and afterwards, double-check that there’s no ambiguous language.

  • Record motions verbatim. Specifically, you’ll want to take note of who made the motion, who seconded it, and what the vote was. However, you should not record conversations verbatim. Instead, record them objectively and exclude any personal or inflammatory remarks.

  • Use technology to streamline the process. Taking clear notes by hand is simply not feasible in the context of a board meeting. With a laptop, easily record pertinent information as you go instead of missing out on key discussions. Go one step further by implementing dedicated technology that allows you to take, store, and distribute minutes with ease.

Always be cognizant that the purpose of taking minutes is to reflect your board’s true intentions. Given the complexity and depth that go into them, learning how to take effective, concise minutes is a key consideration when hosting virtual board meetings.

Tip 3: Add a face-to-face element with video.

Nothing can replace the authenticity of face-to-face interaction. Instead of relying entirely on audio, you’ll want to incorporate video into your virtual meetings. Otherwise, you’ll risk having disengaged attendees. 

What it all boils down to is that humans relate better to faces, and simply seeing one another can work wonders for your board’s communication. Not to mention, if all attendees are remote, they’ll have trouble joining in the conversation without interrupting one another since they won’t be able to indicate that they have some thoughts to share.

Even if all members aren’t attending virtually, this is a great way to make your meeting accessible and involve remote individuals in the conversation. To successfully incorporate video conferencing tools into your virtual meetings, share these tips with board members:

  • Test your Wi-Fi connection as well as audio and video equipment before the call.

  • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.

  • Raise your hand or send a chat to indicate that you have input or a question.

  • Use only one monitor and close all unnecessary tabs to avoid distraction.

Proper video etiquette will ensure that your virtual board meeting goes off without a hitch. Just be sure your board management software either offers its own video conferencing tools or integrates with top providers for the best possible outcome! Especially since your team and board members are all likely currently working from home, it’s important to have this extra layer of human contact.

Tip 4: Create actionable next steps.

During board meetings (virtual ones especially), it’s easy to throw out actionable ideas with strong intentions of following through. However, it’s human nature to forget some things, especially when there are tons of other pressing ideas that are top of mind. Make sure each one gets completed by assigning tasks to individual members.

Assigning forward-looking action items to board members allows your team to take effective steps toward your aspirational goals. The purpose of these tasks can vary, but the overarching goal is to move your team’s work forward by taking action on strong ideas. 

There are several best practices to keep in mind when assigning tasks during virtual board meetings, such as:

  • Establish a prioritization system. A stale-dated action item will not help to meet your organization’s goals. Instead, assign deadlines for each task to ensure your crucial tasks are completed in a timely manner.

  • Don’t overload individuals with work. Instead, equally disperse the tasks among all members. That way, no one gets overwhelmed, and everyone feels part of the team.

  • Track progress on action items. If your next meeting is approaching with unfinished high-priority tasks, make sure to follow up and ensure each member does their part.

  • Shorten the list. Productive board meetings tend to result in a long list of action items. When possible, condense them down and prioritize key tasks to make the best use of members’ time.

Assigning tasks to your board members post-meeting is critical for maintaining productivity between meetings and setting your future ones up for success. It’s important to note that individuals who are working remotely may be struggling to balance their work and personal lives, so make sure to provide them with resources to ensure action items are completed efficiently. Reach out and share some best practices for being productive, like these work-from-home tips from Re:Charity.

From here, you’ll want to consistently follow up on incomplete tasks. So that you can stay up-to-date on progress, make sure your board management tools include a task manager. This way, you’ll be able to easily follow up, ensure all action items are completed in a timely manner, and effectively drive organizational growth.

To kick off your search in the right tools for your team, explore this guide. You’ll get a headstart and find some direction in choosing effective member-based solutions for your organization’s operations, both for your board and beyond!

The ability to go virtual is critical amidst the current pandemic. You can’t abandon your organization’s work for months at a time, and with the tough decisions you’re likely facing, it’s more important than ever for your board to communicate and provide guidance. 

Remember, a successful virtual board meeting starts with the right tools, so make sure your team is backed by effective board management software that centralizes communication. Above all, your board members fuel your organization’s growth, so make sure you value their time, host productive virtual meetings, and stay in contact with them. By incorporating the best practices covered in this article, you’ll be well on your way to hosting engaging and successful virtual board meetings.

By Jeb Banner

About Jeb Banner: 

Jeb is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way of Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

As the CEO and a Founder of Boardable, Jeb is passionate about community nonprofits, entrepreneurship, and more. He also founded SmallBox, a creative agency for mission-driven organizations, and is co-founder of The Speak Easy and founder of Musical Family Tree, both 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

About Boardable: 

Boardable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning, and everything else that goes into running a board of directors.
Share this post:

Comments on " Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Board Meeting"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment