Board Engagement Through Better Meetings

intentional practices May 21, 2024
Board Engagement Through Better Meetings


Many Chairs and Chief Executive Officers despair of the lack of board member engagement. Here are a few proven techniques to improve engagement, starting with meetings, your primary decision-making forum. These suggestions build on our free e-book on meetings.


So, you've got the right people on your board. Their experience and expertise are exactly what you need.

But how do you keep them engaged? How do you take advantage of their expertise, experience, perspectives and connections?


The fact is, as chair, it's your responsibility. So take a look at the e-book for the basics.


First, the 3Ss. Start on Time. Stay on Topic. Stop on Time.

Consider the three agenda sections: For Information; For Decision; For Exploration.

Remember and enforce your agreements or ground rules.


Then consider, depending on the topic and section:


  • Guest speakers. For example, invite a social planner from the municipality to discuss trends and issues in demographics and potential implications for your service delivery.


  • This could be useful for exploration, when there is no right or wrong answer but a need to explore possibilities and potential. Recommendations could come at a later meeting.


  • Round Table. Start with an open-ended question, perhaps distributed in advance, and go around the table with each person expected to contributed something, no matter how minor. What could we do differently? Better? Instead of?

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  • Keep focused. Call on individuals if necessary. Take a break during escalating “heat”.


  • Small Group Discussions. Break the Board into groups of three to five people. Assign the same topic or components of an issue or problem. Have each group report back at the table. It is more difficult to hide to read e-mail during a small group discussion. Make sure it is timed.


Board meetings are critical to your success. They are also the bane of existence of many board members. Engagement around vital questions and issues affecting your community is key to success.

Move beyond reports and single recommendations. Mix the format. Ask questions. Call on people. Break into groups.

If you’ve done your job in Board recruitment and renewal, you’ve got the expertise and experience you need around the table.


Don’t let it go to waste!


What are your main “pain points” dealing with Board engagement?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



Stay Engaged

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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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