Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm Getting Ready for a Board Meeting

The agenda was developed and circulated weeks ago. A revised financial projection for the second half of the year was created and emailed to board members last week, along with a cover email that included several prompting questions for discussion at the board meeting. The final location arrangements were squared away earlier this week. I'll be spending the next couple of days gathering additional materials for handing out and for mental preparation.

I mentally prepare by going through the agenda and visioning the conversation around each discussion item. This exercise helps me to articulate my thoughts, anticipate questions board members might ask of me and it prompts me to bring various types of supporting material along. Sometimes, it even leads to another handout -- an article, graph or factsheet.

Since I believe that board meetings are golden opportunities to solicit opinion, explore issues, and address the needs of our organization's constituents, I work with my board president to create agendas that allow sufficient time for discussion. In fact, I always try to build in an extra 10-15 minutes here and there just for those discussions that go deep or long. I order discussion topics in a logical way with the most pressing items requiring decisions at the top of the meeting; discussions requiring no decisions are placed further along on the agenda.

One agenda construct I have seen, but so far haven't used, is introducing an agenda item in the form of a question. For example, Why is it important to consider raising admission rates? Or, if we expanded our focus on Grade 4 programming, would we not only increase attendance but also raise our visibility for doing so?

I think I like this approach, because with it one can set the direction and tone of the conversation. In doing so, a board's conversation can be focused at a different or higher level, tying in with overarching organizational strategies and criteria -- where it's supposed to be.

I'm getting ready for a board meeting and it requires a lot of thoughtful preparation if I want to ensure that
  • everyone has the opportunity to speak and to be engaged
  • we complete the agenda to everyone's satisfaction in the allotted time
  • discussion is purposeful and moves the organization forward
What getting ready tips would you like to share?

Photo: Summer Conversations by ReyGuy

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