Orchestrate a First Class Board Meeting
Board of trustees meetings are occasions that demand organization, accuracy, and extra attention to detail. Every phase of the meeting and accompanying social activities must be orchestrated with the utmost care. In the non-profit sector where directors are not usually compensated, a professionally presented meeting is a subtle way of communicating respect for their time. A successful board meeting begins with careful planning weeks ahead of time.
- Announce board meeting dates and locations as far in advance as possible. If dates are known for the entire year, send an announcement at the beginning of the academic year and reminders about five weeks before each session.
- Plan an agenda for each meeting that allows time to thoroughly examine each topic, but that makes productive use of members' time.
- About one week ahead of the meeting, each board member should receive an e-mail or packet containing the agenda, all pertinent reports (especially financial information), and the minutes of the preceding meeting and of committee meetings that have taken place in the interim.
- Include a cover letter highlighting any pressing issues and stating the meeting time and place. Provide an overview of other activities to assist members in planning travel itineraries and selecting appropriate attire. Include a travel arrangements form that can be e-mailed back to you indicating arrival times and transportation needs.
- When new board members are added, plan an orientation and briefing before their first meeting to update them on campus life. Include a tour, a briefing on important issues and financial information, and the opportunity to meet the president. Make a point of introducing new trustees to everyone on the board and to all ranking staff members before the meeting begins. New members' photos and biographies should be in board notebooks and published on a web site and in the alumni magazine. The first meeting that includes new board members is an excellent time to have a professional photographer take an annual group photo.
The Meeting Leader's Duties
- Start on time.
- Ask people to silence cell phones.
- Stick to the agenda
- Allow discussion, but maintain control of the meeting.
- Determine action to be taken on each item and assign a person to be responsible. Summarize.