How to run effective remote board meetings | Aprio
January 6, 2022
Dee Sicklesteel

How to run remote board meetings effectively

It is not uncommon for board members to devote their time and energy to advancing their efforts. To accommodate busy schedules, many boards are switching to remote board meetings. With remote meetings, you can accommodate everyone’s professional and personal schedules at most times.

With technology, we can access innovative tools and take part in meetings remotely. In the beginning, virtual meeting tools weren’t perfect, but over time, features and tools that provide the required functionality have been developed and perfected. 

Remote meetings can enhance the experience for both mission-driven and for-profit boards.

Any organization considering digital meetings must take a targeted approach and invest in the right remote board meeting tools to gain the most benefit. With that in mind, this guide explores the subject in-depth, providing you with information on how to win your remote board meetings.

What are remote board meetings?

Meetings can now be accessed virtually from the comfort of a board director’s home or office. Members of the board join remotely using audio and video conferencing tools instead of reviewing notes after the event. Attendees need an internet-connected computer or device to join to hear presentations and contribute to the discussion.

Members of a fully remote board will meet virtually. An alternative is to have some members physically present while others participate in the online board meeting. In either case, going remote opens up many possibilities for all types of board organizations. 

The purpose of remote board meetings

Remote board meetings were designed to meet the needs of an increasingly technological world. If Fortune 500 companies can operate remotely, so can their boards! 

In the past, the virtual boardroom was a quick and convenient way to discuss and solve problems during crises. This capability has been dramatically enhanced by software, and COVID-19 brought the importance of flexibility and online centralization to the forefront. With online meeting platforms for board, committee, executive, and other sensitive meetings, leaders have been able to stay in touch while maintaining the necessary social distances.

Challenges of remote meetings

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies when meeting virtually. These meetings are prone to technical difficulties, a lack of engagement, and inefficiency. You can conduct effective remote meetings by anticipating and addressing the challenges you will face. However, these challenges are not trivial. Even so, they can be easily overcome with a bit of effort and should not be a significant factor in deciding whether to use remote meetings at your organization.  

Benefits and drawbacks of remote meetings

Going virtual has practical and measurable benefits and adapting to the necessity of conducting board meetings remotely during crises and many more realistic situations.

Benefits of remote board meetings: 

1. Reduced expenses 

A face-to-face meeting requires a space, which is expensive. You can save money by holding remote meetings instead of holding in-person meetings, as well as on meeting space, travel, and hotel accommodations for board members that don’t live nearby. 

In addition to saving on infrastructure, utilities, and other costs, companies save a lot of money allowing employees to work from home. By allowing 25% of its employees to work from home, Dell saves $12 million per year

2. Better attendance 

Virtual board meetings might just be the answer to your quorum problems! Remote sessions enable board members to attend the conference from wherever they are. This increases the likelihood that attendees will participate. Plus, you save attendees time and money by eliminating travel time and expenses.

3. A more diverse board 

A diverse board is made possible by remote board meetings. Remote meetings can lead to a geographical and socially diverse board.

Your board can strive for greater diversity by including people from all over the country (or even the world) at meetings. These new perspectives will allow your company to gain valuable insights, ultimately enabling you to make more well-rounded decisions.

4. Better governance 

Corporations and mission-driven organizations use digital meetings to make time-sensitive decisions and communicate regularly. A better set of tools will help your board leaders become more in control of the meetings and maintain online boardroom etiquette, directly supporting effective governance in the company.

In the long run, board leadership will benefit from having a common solution for recording and sharing meetings as well as sharing data, discussions, and files.

Of course, there are some potential drawbacks of remote meetings. But addressed and anticipated in advance, the benefits far outweigh the potential disadvantages. 

Drawbacks of remote board meetings include: 

1. Information security 

A board of directors discusses your organization’s financial stability and strategies in private. As a result of technology in virtual board meetings, proprietary and confidential information is, of course, at risk. A breach of sensitive information may cause board members to feel reluctant to discuss controversial issues or disclose sensitive information.

To prevent this from occurring, you should ensure that the security protocols for your organization are current and include pressing risk factors. Using virtual board meeting software and any other third-party software that is entirely secure can further mitigate security vulnerabilities. It should also be possible for administrators to control which users have access to which pieces of content.

2. Potential for lower engagement 

Since remote board meetings lack face-to-face interaction, some of the subtleties of interaction may be lost. Meetings with passive listening won’t help you reach your goals.

For board members to be influential, they must actively participate and contribute their insights. In addition, when you use a hybrid approach and only a few participants are remote, a feeling of exclusion can result if those who participate via phone only listen and vote.

Video and participation are quick and straightforward solutions. Doing this will provide a welcome face-to-face element, reminding in-person attendees that remotely connected participants are still an integral part of the conversation. 

3. Reliance on technology 

When it comes to adopting new technology, there are often unique challenges. It is essential for organizers of virtual board meetings to be aware of the technical requirements to ensure that board leadership and members can attend. Remember that not all members have adequate technical proficiency and may require extra guidance. This is normal in any organization. 

It is a good idea to have someone on your team test out any technological tool before you use it. It is common for boards to designate someone to troubleshoot any audio-visual problems during meetings.

Consider providing sufficient instructions to your less tech-savvy attendees so they can participate in polls and discussions. A virtual board meeting would be a waste of everyone’s time if you discussed technology issues during the meeting.

Helpful tips on how to run an effective virtual board meeting

Running remote meetings can seem challenging if your organization is new to it. But you just need someone to spearhead the project to start realizing the benefits. Here are some virtual board meeting best practices to get your members on board.

1. Does the organization allow virtual meetings? 

The first thing you should do is ensure that virtual meetings are legal. These meetings are typically prohibited by the bylaws of some mission-driven organizations and corporations and sometimes by state laws. You’ll need to check the internal regulations of your organization (terms of board governance), and you’ll need to check the laws of your state/location. 

Using virtual meetings is likely, but it is a good idea to check your internal regulations and local regulations to make sure you are following all procedures and operating ethically.

2. Find a meeting time that works for everyone 

Selecting an appropriate meeting time is key to successful virtual board meetings. Choosing the right time is crucial to a successful meeting if attendees are located in multiple time zones. Meeting times should respect everyone’s lunch and break times.

Make your remote board meeting easily accessible for as many people as possible, even if it might not be possible to accommodate everyone’s schedules. You might decide to set up two separate meetings if there is a strong divide. Use a digital scheduling tool for ease of decision-making if you have trouble coordinating everyone’s schedules.

3. Have a clear meeting agenda 

Effective remote board meetings begin with a strong agenda. When you have remote attendees, it’s even more crucial that everyone has easy access to topics and discussions. Use an intuitive mobile interface or an application that lets you access your schedule from any device. Create a clear, dynamic agenda that keeps your meeting on track at all times.

Ensure that participants are involved in creating the agenda. You can then ensure that all pertinent topics are addressed. Furthermore, the fact that board members feel their opinions are being heard right from the start is a great way to boost engagement from the beginning.

An advance copy of the agenda and relevant documents should be available a week before the meeting. Members of your virtual board of directors can bring insightful points and stimulating questions to the meeting. The atmosphere of remote meetings is sometimes less formal. Establishing an expectation of professionalism and seriousness will be easier if you create a schedule and adhere to it. 

4. Have everyone turn their video ON! 

In remote board meetings, video conferencing provides the crucial face-to-face element for a successful board. Of course, meetings can be conducted without video. But with video conferencing tools, discussions will be much more interactive and fruitful.

Participants build stronger connections when they can see each other. Participants will also be more aware of critical nonverbal cues by adding video. Pay attention to body language that conveys disagreement, boredom, impatience, or enthusiasm. 

Establishing a “video on” policy and other rules for virtual meetings can help keep members on track during sessions. 

5. Encourage participation in virtual meetings  

Be sure to encourage collaboration during your virtual board meetings if you’re struggling with participation, even while using video. One of the main challenges of holding a virtual board meeting is keeping everyone engaged. 

The meeting should begin with everyone speaking. From the very beginning, this fosters a collaborative spirit. In addition, it reminds us all who is in attendance. They do this by calling roll and announcing each attendee’s presence. 

Keep in touch with remote attendees regularly. From a distance, it is hard to jump into a conversation. Perhaps you can pause after each main topic and ask everyone what they think. There are many strategies to promote interaction; you just need to find the one that works best for your board. 

6. Collect feedback regularly

The feedback you receive will ensure your virtual board meetings are as successful as possible. Give all participants a chance to give feedback after the remote board meeting. If you are looking for ways to enhance the board member experience, this is a perfect time. 

Generally, polling has the potential to make crucial decisions and connect personally. Provide anonymous feedback through your polling tools so that participants feel comfortable providing open, honest feedback. Make sure you consider all suggestions when deciding when and where to hold virtual board meetings. Implementing board members’ recommendations will demonstrate your value for their input, resulting in positive relationships and effective contracts.

Get more effective virtual board meetings with board meeting software

Your board needs leading-edge tools to make informed decisions and maintain records to enhance governance effectively. We’ve got you covered with Aprio. The platform is designed to meet the needs of nonprofit and for-profit boards alike. In addition, it is affordable for corporations and mission-driven organizations.

Making remote meetings simple and accessible can be a significant next step in improving governance. You can do just that with Aprio’s board portal software. Corporate and non-profit boards can use our platform to conduct remote board meetings. Whether you’re a hybrid or fully remote organization, our board portal software has all the functionalities you need to succeed. 

Aprio makes it easy to organize, lead and participate in virtual meetings. Learn more about Aprio’s remote board meeting features and schedule a demo for your remote organization today. 

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