My golden rule of an effective Board room is – the meeting is done outside the meeting. The purpose of the meeting itself is to summarise the topic, secure the support required, make decisions and agree actions.
You don’t know what you don’t know and I haven’t yet seen a Boardroom that functions to it’s best because the people in it more often than not come to the meeting concentrating on the wrong things – the agenda and the papers. In actual fact what matters most are the outcomes your’e striving to achieve and the rehearsals with individuals beforehand are key to success. I call it lining up the ducks, the most important of the 6 steps below. To summarise … Just like your staff need to understand why, so do your Board members.
When you put in the spade work to line up the ducks, your Board members come to the meeting feeling:
- More knowledgeable about the subject
- Confident to participate
And, you in turn build trust and grow your confidence to chair the meeting effectively.
To be able to chair a meeting successfully you have to ensure:
- The agenda isn’t merely a shopping list of items to discuss. It’s a route map for getting from A to Z in the meeting.
- It ideally does not extend beyond 2 hours and if it does, ensure there is a break for people to ‘re-energise’.
- You know your Board members and understand where they’re coming from, what their key drivers are, why they hold the views they do and why they behave in the way they do. Only when you really know them can you manage your meeting effectively. If the only time you interact with them is in the Board room you’re not investing in the relationship and you won’t get the best from each individual.
- You’ve lined up the ducks. Have you discussed and rehearsed the conversation about the relevant topics and actions required with Board Members in advance?
- You know what each Board member thinks and feels about those issues. Do you know how much buy-in you have to the decisions you’re looking for?
- Any guest presentations with your senior team are rehearsed with you. The words on the powerpoint or Board paper are not what matters most … The way in which they are positioned is.