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If board members steer an organization towards health and success, the board meeting is the vehicle in which they do it. But with so many people involved and so many items on the agenda, it can seem somewhat daunting to get anything done.

Stansfeld helps conduct board meetings for our clients and we have put together this list of dos and don’ts to help set up your next board meeting for success.


DO: Put together an agenda and send it ahead of the meeting.

The agenda helps to structure the meeting. Typically, the board secretary should ask board members for items they want to be added to the agenda and send the agenda four or five days ahead of the meeting. When creating the agenda, be sure to give each item a time frame to keep the meeting on track. Group the quick-hitting items together to save time for more strategic discussions.


DON’T: Allow board members to discuss irrelevant topics.

In addition to keeping structure, agendas are necessary for keeping to the tasks at hand. Certain board members may have their own agendas – sometimes to criticize or complain – which only derails a meeting.


DO: Have one person lead the meeting.

When everyone talks at once, chaos ensues – especially now that meetings have gone virtual. The board chair should keep the meeting focused on the key elements and strategic decisions. Board meetings have certain standards and it’s up to the board chair to keep to those processes.


DON’T: Go over meeting time.

Board members’ time is valuable – most of them perform this function in addition to other responsibilities. Keep to the agenda and if something does come up in a meeting that needs further discussion, table it for the next meeting or follow-up communication.


DO: Distribute in advance the motions to be voted on.

Distributing motions in advance allows everyone time to review and come with any questions to ensure your board members are voting on something they feel informed about.


DON’T: Act defensively in meetings.

Of course, great board members are open to new ideas, but they also have to be open to criticism. When listening to suggested solutions to an issue, adopt a “yes, and” philosophy instead of a “no, but”. Failing to recognize new ideas only slows the advancement of your organization.


DO: Thank board members for their contributions.

Recognition is important. Acknowledging those who have made special contributions lets board members know your organization values its members and will invite others to want to help as well.


DON’T: Think all responsibility falls on the board chair.

Although the board chair leads the meeting, they are not responsible for all action items from the meeting. When a task is created, make sure everyone knows who is responsible for each item and hold them accountable.


DO: Give everyone a chance to speak.

Boards are made up of all types of people. Some like to talk and some need time to think. Encourage input from those who don’t often weigh in – it shows that all members are valued and also keeps the impassioned speakers at bay.


DON’T: Overcomplicate with lengthy proposals.

Obviously, presentations and proposals are a part of new business. If you have a new item to present to the board, it’s best to circulate large, thorough presentations ahead of the meeting and give a brief summary during the meeting to keep to the time allotted.


DO: Create detailed meeting minutes.

Keeping detailed meeting minutes helps track the progress of your organization. Minutes give members something to refer back to, whether it’s to see decisions that have been made or action items and member responsibility. Sending meeting minutes as a recap of the meeting can also cut down on future meetings, allowing your organization to be more efficient.


Need help implementing your next board meeting? Stansfeld can help! Contact us for more information.