Are You Boring Your Board?
Are you boring your board members with information and data that doesn’t matter? You might want to think about that. I’ve been in hundreds of board meetings during my time as a consultant and I’ve watched the board members body language and then listened to their comments. Some of them have eyes that appear to be glazed over or zoning out. Others are trying to appear as though they are listening but are really dreaming about their upcoming vacation. There’s always that one board member that is so important that she has to check her email on her phone right there in front of everyone during the meeting. Come on, is it really that important that you can’t wait?
The body language indicates a lack of engagement and concern. Now of course, not all board members do this, but many do. I’ve seen it during board meetings that go longer than 2 hours. I was in a board meeting that went 4 hours long and it was painful! What’s the solution? Keep the board meetings to under 90 minutes. That seems simple enough. Stop reporting out and telling them what you’ve been doing. Seek out opportunities to involve them in conversations about the strategic plan, fundraising, and future of the organization. If you have a strategic plan, that should always have a permanent place on your agenda. Go over what you’ve accomplished and what’s coming up in the next quarter.
Remember, the board members are people with emotions. They’re volunteers and donors who give time and money. A couple of other ways you can liven up the meeting and give it that personal touch is to have a Board Member Spotlight moment at each meeting. During that meeting you highlight one board member and have her tell fun facts about herself and also what she’s working on for the fundraising or board. That serves two purposes. First, it kills the monotony of the business aspect of the meeting and second, it lets other get to know her and may motivate them to do more.
Whatever you choose to do, you should always start by getting feedback from your board members about the meetings. Be ready because they may say something you don’t want to hear such as “well, the meetings a little boring.” If that happens, smile and ask them what they recommend. Then decide what to do.