5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Board Meeting

5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Board Meeting 

The COVID-19 pandemic might have caused virtual board meetings to be a necessity for a time, but by now, your organization has likely caught on to the various other benefits of virtual gatherings. 

In addition to keeping board members safe in times of crisis, virtual meetings allow participants to tune in from anywhere and eliminate the need for a commute. Plus, they open your board membership up to individuals from around the country or even the world, if your organization has a wider scope. 

However, there’s no shame in admitting that you’re still ironing out the kinks and discovering the secret recipe that makes a virtual board meeting successful. The transition to the virtual space comes with plenty of challenges, whether you’re hosting e-Learning courses or training your board members on how to use your board management software. 

To help you make the most of your virtual board meetings, we’ll explore five key tips that work for any organization: 

  1. Send out dynamic board meeting agendas.

  2. Take effective minutes.

  3. Establish participation guidelines. 

  4. Encourage participant interaction. 

  5. Assign actionable next steps.

Ready to explore our top tips and tools for hosting a successful virtual board meeting? Let’s jump in!

1. Send out dynamic board meeting agendas.

At the core of any successful virtual board meeting is a well-written, organized agenda. Board meeting agendas are the roadmap for the board chair and act as the overall driving force for your virtual meetings. Because of their importance, it will take more than just listing a few agenda items and calling it a day to create a valuable guide for your own virtual meetings.

There are several important components to an effective agenda. In particular, as you start creating one for your next virtual meeting, consider these specific best practices and the free board agenda templates offered by Boardable’s complete guide to board meeting agendas:

  • 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 the 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 teach board members something new, gather information from board members, 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.

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. Furthermore, should an issue ever arise, your minutes will serve as an official legal record of your board meeting. 

This is especially important for hosting effective online board meetings, as attendees may run into connection issues or problems with their devices that keep them from fully absorbing the meeting’s content.

As such an important part of your meeting management process, the task of taking minutes shouldn’t be taken lightly. To craft effective and clear minutes, there are some actionable steps that your secretary should take, including:

  • 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 afterward, 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.

Boardable_ISAE_5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Board Meeting_participation guidelines

[Alt text: Boost board meeting engagement and effectiveness by setting participation guidelines.]

3. Establish participation guidelines.

While the right virtual board meeting tools should be able to facilitate a wide variety of different discussion and engagement methods, attendees may be more hesitant to jump into the conversation in a virtual setting. 

To help remedy this, consider how you can enforce the following participation guidelines to get your meeting flowing and encourage constructive conversation:

  • Have everyone speak at the beginning of the meeting. Set the tone of your meeting and foster a spirit of collaboration by going “around the room” to take roll or perform a small introductory icebreaker.

  • Require participants to turn on their cameras.Video is a powerful engagement tool not only for your association’s members and constituents but also for its board members! Request that meeting participants turn on their video feeds to boost their participation and facilitate open and active lines of communication.

  • Take time between major topics to field questions and comments. Create organic opportunities for participation by pausing between important agenda items, directly addressing all board members, and getting confirmation before continuing.

  • Set a minimum requirement for in-person attendance. Just because your board regularly practices virtual meetings doesn’t mean that board members should always be phoning in. Establish a minimum number of people that should be physically present for most meetings, or schedule periodic in-person meetings. This allows board members to touch base and establish a more tight-knit team culture.

Furthermore, to limit any unnecessary disruptions or mishaps, be sure that participants also understand basic virtual meeting etiquette, like muting the microphone when they’re not speaking or indicating that they’d like to chime in through hand-raising and chat features.

Boardable_ISAE_5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Board Meeting_participation guidelines

[Alt text: Encourage and facilitate interactions between virtual meeting participants.]

4. Encourage participant interaction. 

As with any virtual conference, activity, or event, one of the biggest challenges of running a successful virtual meeting is maintaining engagement for all attendees throughout your time together. After all, meeting participants are calling in from different locations, through different devices, potentially in different timezones. Someone is bound to get distracted.

However, as is outlined in Re:Charity’s article on using virtual board meetings to maintain momentum, it’s up to you to proactively plan around these barriers to engagement. By preparing interactive strategies in advance, you will be far better equipped to keep things on track and ensure that everyone is engaged, alert, and on the same page—no matter what distractions might pop up.

In particular, take a look at these virtual meeting engagement techniques:

  • Use video to add a face-to-face engagement element. Nothing quite replaces the authenticity of face-to-face interaction. However, incorporating video into your meeting can capture that sense of intimacy, further engage participants’ senses, and improve the flow of conversation.

  • Periodically touch base with remote attendees. Remote attendees often struggle the most with meeting participation and understanding the best times to interject their thoughts. To facilitate their engagement, directly address remote participants after major topics of discussion.

  • Gamify your meeting with icebreakers or small challenges. Infuse a fun element of gamification into your virtual meetings by organizing mini-games at the beginning or the end of the meeting. For example, look at the results of pre-meeting movie trivia polls or host a quick photo contest of the best snapshots members took throughout the week.

To see which of these engagement strategies work best for your board and take steps to improve, organize a meeting feedback survey for board members. Ideally, you should make use of your board meeting software’s polling tools to allow participants to anonymously submit their answers and speak more openly and honestly about their meeting experiences.

5. Assign actionable next steps.

During board meetings (especially virtual ones), 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, provide important meeting takeaways for the next steps, and take action on strong ideas. 

There are several best practices to keep in mind when assigning tasks during virtual board meetings. For example, you should:

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

  • Be sure not to 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 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. 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.

For example, use your board’s portal to ensure that important documents, meeting details, and action items are shared with members well in advance of and after your meeting.

From here, consistently follow up on incomplete tasks. Task manager features will allow you to stay up-to-date on progress so that you can easily follow up, ensure tasks are completed promptly, and effectively drive organizational growth.



As we move forward into the future of digital engagement and remote work, the ability to go virtual is critical. With more people choosing to take advantage of remote working capabilities and software solutions adapting to keep pace with this virtual revolution, it’s more important than ever for your board to be able to reach current board members and serve future association leaders no matter when or where they may be.

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 and engagement. By leveraging effective software and the best practices covered in this article, you’ll be well on your way to hosting engaging and successful virtual board meetings that keep pace with our changing times.

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