Productive, engaging, and effective board meetings do not happen overnight. As professional facilitators, we know that successful meetings take a lot of hard work and meticulous planning. Below are practical tips you may want to consider before holding your next board meeting.

Follow the Agenda

In any meeting, the agenda is the road map to success – or at the very least, it is the way to have an organized and orderly session. Make it clear to everyone that it will be followed. If there are any side issues that come up that need to be discussed, table it for another meeting, or set aside some time toward the end of the meeting to briefly address the issue.

Lay the Ground Rules

Establish time limits for sharing, and be clear on the topics that are on the table as well as what can be reasonably and realistically expected from the meeting. The less ambiguous the ground rules are for the meeting, the better your participants will be able to conform to them.

Guide the Process by Dealing with the Personalities

In any business meeting, there will be different personalities in attendance. Your job as facilitator is to make sure the meeting is not sabotaged or taken hostage by any single person. Be firm when you have to step in when someone is starting to dominate the discussion unfairly. Don’t wait too long to interrupt or this person could seriously derail your meeting.

Involve Everyone

If you were careful about inviting only the necessary stakeholders to the meeting, all your participants should have a meaningful contribution to make toward the outcome of the meeting. Make sure this is so. Sometimes less confrontational people shy away from speaking their mind when facing a dominant personality. Create a meeting environment that is non-threatening and open so people will feel free to speak their mind, share their opinions and form solutions.

Provide Feedback Opportunity

Give your participants the chance to process the information and ideas generated by the meeting. Even a simple online group where they can continue to share and build on what they learned is a helpful step. Be sure you monitor these feedback opportunities so you can use the data to improve or fine tune your next meeting.