Last updated April 21, 2020
While there is more to Governance than attending meetings, they are where a great deal of the decision making takes place. As such, well-run meetings are essential for good Governance practice. When chairing a Board meeting, make sure you:
Have a regular deadline for submitting agenda items. Agendas should be compiled (usually by the Secretary) and distributed no less than one week before the meeting takes place. This gives people time to prepare for specific items if necessary.
Label each agenda item for information, for discussion, or for decision. This lets trustees know if they are required to do any research or thinking ahead of time.
Reports for any items that are for information only, should be emailed with the agenda ahead of time. These should be taken as read, unless there are specific questions or concerns that need to be raised.
Set a start and finish time for each of your agenda items and strictly adhere to them. If a particular agenda item is going over time, decide if you want to continue the conversation and if so, decide which agenda item will you spend less time on to compensate. You may choose to stop the discussion and delegate further research to a sub-committee.
Allow everybody the opportunity to contribute. If some members are dominating the discussion, ask others directly for their ideas. You should build a culture within the Board where everyone feels comfortable to speak.
Lead by example and keep your comments positive and productive. Swiftly respond to any behaviour that is bullying or inappropriate.
Summarise the results of each agenda item as you go. Pay particular note of any details that need further discussion, and any actions which are to be taken and by whom. Check that these details are recorded in the minutes.
Keep the meeting discussions on topic. A simple ‘Can we get back to the item at hand please’ is usually enough. If a pressing item is raised in conversation, consider adding it to the agenda if there is time, or set a time for a special meeting for further discussion.
Set a date and time for the next meeting. Having a regular day (eg. first Monday of the month) means people can plan the rest of their schedules around this regular commitment.
Distribute minutes of the meeting within 48 hours. This prompts people to take their required actions and signals that the meeting was indeed important, and not just a matter of routine. Early distribution also allows for corrections or amendments to be made quickly.
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