Now You’re the Board Chair: 10 Tips for Board Meeting Success

Becoming the chair of the board of directors for your organization is a big responsibility. People will look to you for leadership and guidance and one of those increase responsibilities will likely be to oversee board meetings.

We put together these tips to help you make your board meetings as successful as possible.

  1. Pick the frequency and duration that is right for your organization. Schedule meetings based on goals and not just to have them.
  2. Create a detailed agenda. A well thought out agenda is the single most important thing you can do to ensure a successful meeting.
  3. Be prepared. Ask everyone to read materials in advance. Work with staff to ensure you have all the information you need to have meaningful discussions and make decisions.
  4. Make your strategic goals the focus of the meeting. Focus every meeting on the future of your organization and your strategic goals. Use a Consent Agenda for reports to eliminate verbal reports.
  5. Know the communication styles, background and motivations of your board members. This will help you lead the discussion. Board receptions and ice breakers are a great way to get to know one another.
  6. Know Robert’s Rules of Order, but don’t stress too much. Unless you are in Congress, you are likely to just need to know the basics (motions, quorums, voting, etc.). Check out for the basics.
  7. Keep time and ensure everyone has a chance to speak. Keep the meeting moving forward by asking for a motion or summarizing concerns. If you are stuck, identify additional information needed and then table the topic until the next meeting. If one member is dominating the conversation, call on others to add to the conversation to ensure everyone is heard.
  8. Don’t leave topics unresolved. Every agenda item should have a clear action such as an assignment, further research, passing a motion or tabling the topic until the next meeting. If you table a topic, identify what will be different when you discuss it again (have more information, input from stakeholders, etc.)
  9. Recognize members and acknowledge achievements. At the end of every meeting, thank the board for their time and efforts and summarize what they have accomplished.
  10. Have fun! Board meetings don’t have to be stuffy. It is OK to laugh, play games, do group activities, whatever is necessary to keep everyone engaged and interested. Remember, working on strategic goals the group is passionate about will always be more fun than listening to tons of reports.