Strategies for virtual board meetings
How to run an effective virtual Board meeting
With two-thirds of Australians working from home these days, virtual meetings are more prevalent than ever. Remote and hybrid work continues to flourish, with over 60% of Australian organisations offering hybrid working arrangements and up to 95% of employees wanting to WFH at least one day a week. Knowing how to run an effective virtual meeting as an organisation is key to keeping your executives and Board members engaged.
Our shift to virtual technology was abrupt during the pandemic and left many companies playing catch-up when it came to successfully integrating the new technology into their daily practices. Although many of us regularly engage in virtual meetings these days, it can be tough to keep team members attentive and contributing online.
Familiarising your Board team with virtual Board meeting formats and technology can help you collaborate in a more seamless and effective way. Rather than anticipating virtual Board meetings with dread, understanding of the advantages offered by a virtual format can reframe remote meetings as a space of ample opportunity.
We have compiled tips for facilitating conversation during virtual Board meetings and dealing with the practical hassles of running a remote meeting.
Create a strong agenda
Having a clear meeting agenda will help you keep your team on track and lead a focused, concise discussion. Distribute a clear agenda document to your team with an easy-to-read format (including bolding key items). You should aim to include specific times for each topic of discussion, allowing for a logical flow between talking points. Use your agenda as the foundation for action items and meeting minutes. Following an agenda will ensure your Board discusses everything necessary and that you maintain progress.
Troubleshoot all technology
Before starting your meeting, make sure you know how to use your virtual meeting platform and are ready to troubleshoot any technical issues that your team might encounter. It can be helpful to conduct a practice session for the meeting, including presenters, if anyone is feeling particularly nervous about speaking in the meeting. Schedule individual calls with team members to make sure that they have everything they need to look professional and polished on-screen – discuss camera angle, microphone options and lighting.
On the day of the meeting, test sound and video before it starts to ensure that everything is working. Keep an eye on your team’s communication platform in case anyone has problems accessing the meeting, and make sure that everyone feels comfortable participating virtually.
Outline expectations and support Board members
Before your meeting starts, establish a framework of acceptable communication for your team. Setting guidelines for Board member behaviour will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to virtual etiquette and gives you an opportunity to do some housekeeping.
Distribute any important documentation to the team well in advance so that everyone has the opportunity to come to the meeting prepared. This will create effective discussions. All members should have access to the same information and the most recent version of the Board pack.
Ask team members to facilitate discussion by muting their microphones when not speaking and take part in the meeting from a quiet, private space if possible. This is particularly important if sensitive company information is being discussed. Have members raise their virtual hands when they have input to share or submit questions through the technology. This will limit distractions and interruptions in the flow of the meeting.
At the start of the meeting, take a moment to engage with each team member individually and prompt a discussion to get everyone comfortable interacting. Checking in after each main topic can help maintain engagement from the team.
Ask your team for feedback post-meeting to see what you can improve for next time and what should stay the same. Keep in mind that the virtual format may be unfamiliar for some Board members, so they might need more support adjusting to the virtual platform. Offering a chance for feedback will let your team raise any issues they had and feel more comfortable with the overall experience.
Whether you choose to gather this insight through anonymous surveys or post-meeting discussions is up to you. However, you should ensure that your feedback time is separate from your meeting time so that you do not compromise your Boardroom discussions. Encourage honest feedback and be open to criticism; remember, your aim is to support your team in this transition.
Portal software like BoardPro can help support your team in virtual Board meetings. Going hand in hand with the shift in meeting formats, it facilitates collaborative work across distance and time zones by offering secure, centralised access to relevant documents for Board members.
Anna Fitzgibbon, Corporate Governance Officer at Breakthrough Accounting, says, “BoardPro has allowed us to provide [our] services for a greater number of clients and manage the clients’ board documents and processes within one, easy-to-use software. BoardPro has streamlined our services and workflows, allowing us to achieve efficiency in this space. It has streamlined the process of managing actions, facilitating voting, and maintaining board governance documents.”
Although the transition to virtual meetings may be challenging at first, the benefits of a flexible working model outweigh the initial challenges. Knowing how to effectively structure your meeting and guide your team makes all the difference when it comes to facilitating a fruitful Board meeting. With a few easy changes to your process, your Board can easily make use of virtual meeting technology.
If you are interested in exploring virtual meeting organisation in conjunction with Board portal technology, check out a free trial of BoardPro’s software at LINK to see how it can support your team’s remote meetings.
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