Running effective Board and Committee meetings

During Covid-19 lock-downs Board and Committee meetings have gone virtual. Photo credit Nastuh Abootalebi Unsplash.

A Board member perspective of Microsoft Teams

To enable quality connection and communication, it is important that members of a Board all use the same technology and processes. This is easier said than done — Board members invariably come from different backgrounds, work with numerous organisations and usually have a variety of email addresses.  

There are lots of technology options in the Board Management software space. They are generally expensive, and implementing one usually means Board members must become familiar with the new platform.  

Since I joined my first Board, I have been a big advocate for using technology that is familiar to everyone. 

At the NSW chapter of International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), we used a Yammer network just for the Board. The communication was instant, and we could keep all files in one place. I loved it (so much so that I ended up working for Yammer and Microsoft). 

Over the last 12 months, remote working has become the new normal, and a significant number of board and committee meetings have gone virtual. Teams use has exploded across this period. In fact, 87% of the world’s Top 500 companies have now implemented Teams for collaboration and communication across all their staff.  

So why consider Teams for Board meetings? 

  • Widespread Teams adoption across organisations means there is no new tech for incoming Board or committee members to learn.

  • You can conduct meetings with virtual participants, store files and communicate all in one place. 

  • Board members can potentially be more self-reliant and not require the services of an administrator or staff.   

At Engage Squared, we have developed an app that builds on the standard Teams experience and takes it to a whole new level. The Board Connect app offers the best of both worlds: dedicated Board Management Software within the Teams environment. It comes configured with all the things needed to run end-to-end Board or Committee management process embedded inside the Teams environment.  

Here are a few tips on some of the core elements you need to run effective Board and Committee meetings — especially when most activities need to be completed digitally, and you are working with members virtually.  

Preparation

Preparation of Board papers is vital, but often those involved in putting them together find it ‘painful’. It is often necessary to get input from specialists and qualified staff members in the preparation of Board papers. 

The ability to access and edit documents in a collaborative way makes the preparation stage much quicker. Having multiple people edit and make comments while drafting Board papers saves time and produces a better outcome.  

You need a platform that allows this editing and updating of your documents, then sends board papers electronically, in advance of the meeting. I find editing is often required after a Board paper has been sent. This is much easier when Board papers are digital.  There is nothing worse than getting multiple emails with revised Board papers. Much better to login to Teams for the latest or final versions. 

Effective Meetings

Board members and special guests require a secure invite and somewhere safe to meet. Teams calendar invites include several security features, and the Teams video platform hosts secure virtual or hybrid meetings. 

Add clear agenda items for each meeting. Although many are set from previous meetings, topics often evolve between meetings, so having a dynamic agenda for discussion and decision making is best when done transparently.  

Much of the success of Board meetings is dependent on how decisions and actions are captured and tracked. Keeping good minutes that can be reviewed and edited in real time certainly helps. 

In-Between Meetings 

In my experience, the communication between Board members or Committee members that occurs between meetings is the most critical in shaping decision making and overall success. 

Through Teams, you can have instant chat messages or impromptu team calls between Board members, saving the back and forth and interruptions of phone calls and emails. 

Sometimes boards need to find ways to make critical decisions in between their regular scheduled Board meetings. These out-of-session resolutions require a quorum and recording of any decisions made. Teams and Board Connect make these much easier to organise and track.  

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If you would like more information about using Teams for running your Board or Committee meetings or would like a free trial of Board Connect by Engage Squared, please get in touch.

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