How to make board meetings more efficient: 5 simple tips
How to make board meetings more efficient
January 29, 2020
Ian Warner

How to make board meetings more efficient

Have you ever felt the sense of accomplishment that comes from organizing a productive board meeting? One where directors were all engaged and provided constructive direction that was on point for the organization’s strategy and the agenda? 

Those meetings deliver big value. Effective board meetings don’t just feel inspiring; they’re also a top factor in improved organizational performance, according to research from the Rotman School of Management.

But how can organizations run productive board meetings and do it efficiently? Good board meetings require timely distribution of board materials and clear communication of the board meeting date and agenda. For many organizations, making that happen requires board governance teams and management to spend days preparing. And that focus on logistics can distract from smart, strategic discussion. 

In this post, we’ll discover how to make board meetings more efficient.

How to make board meetings more efficient

Reasons for frustration in the boardroom

There are a few common hitches that can make board meetings go wrong, either in the preparation for or in the boardroom itself. They include:

  • Hard-to-access board materials – when the board meeting package arrives late or updates cause confusion on what is “the right version” to review, directors are much more likely to arrive to a board meeting unprepared or already frustrated.
  • Unclear agendas – boilerplate or vague agendas don’t give directors a reason to attend and contribute strategically. Likewise, if background information isn’t provided on a strategic agenda item, the meeting conversation is unlikely to be productive.
  • Lack of director discussion between meetings – if the only time directors get to share thoughts, ask questions, and collaborate is at the board meeting, then meetings will tend to run long, with the chair struggling to push through discussion to get to decisions. 
  • Meeting time consumed on background for new directors – every board is braving the reality of shorter director terms and continuous recruitment. But spending board meetings catching up newcomers will hamper your pace of strategic decisions and bore your veteran board members who have valuable insights to share.

Tips on how to make board meetings more efficient

So how to make more board meetings more efficient? Here are a few easy steps:

1. Streamline prep of board packs

Use technology to help produce and securely distribute board packages to board members at any location, and without confusion, paper waste, or cost. Save time generating the agenda and relaying the latest version of materials to directors before and between meetings.

2. Centralize access to board materials. 

Eliminate the scavenger hunt or calls to board administrators to find current or historic board documents. Provide one secure login to access board information, and have it organized for the way board members work. Put materials for the next board meeting front and centre, with easy-to-search access to past meeting materials, reports, policies, bylaws, and other archives.

3. Provide instant board updates online

Ensure transparent board communication with same-time delivery of sensitive updates and document revisions before and between meetings to all directors. Do so electronically so board members gain access, regardless of location.

4. Honour modern, mobile, fast-paced work life 

Often, the most valuable members on a board are the most busy. Make their work as a board member as convenient as possible with mobile access to board materials from anywhere. Also provide online note taking and collaboration.

5. Protect data security

Data leaks make headlines every day. Safeguard cybersecurity by keeping sensitive board information secure online and separate from your organization’s operations. This way, board members are prepared for crisis communications and business continuity. Also consider worst-case scenarios. If a director loses a tablet that contains sensitive board materials, can you remotely wipe board data off the device, even if it’s never seen again?

How to make board meetings more efficient

The tools to run the best board meetings 

With so many moving parts, it’s important to have the right tools in place to facilitate better board meeting management and communications, like board portal software.

Board management software enhances meeting efficiency and makes the work of board members, corporate secretaries, and board admins more convenient. Board portal software provides you with the tools and automation you need to build clear and informative agendas, provide convenient and effective meeting prep, facilitate discussions between meetings, and onboard new board members efficiently.

Here are some key reasons why the leading organizations across North America turn to board portal systems like Aprio to run better board meetings.

Improve meeting prep

Directors are often travelling, and may sit on multiple boards or have other jobs. Board admins are also busy people with demanding schedules. Why should anyone need to spend hours trying to make sure everyone has access to the latest board materials when it could be as simple as clicking a button? 

Directors will no longer need to carry around a highlighter and pen to take notes on paper board materials. They’ll be able to add their annotations directly to digital documents, even while they’re offline. If needed, they can also share their notes with other board members. 

Admins can also add links to agendas, allowing directors to quickly and easily access the right documents without having to search through endless files or email swirls. This allows directors to come to meetings more prepared.

Timely, inclusive access to updates

Creating a board culture of inclusion – which means same-time access to same board communication – is job #1 for a board chair looking to create a board that invites every member to have an equal voice. Inviting input through votes, polls, and online discussions is a valuable way to invite every director to have their say beyond the board meeting.

Additionally, when board admins have to replace a board document with a newer version, it’s no longer a hassle to update directors. Admins can upload the new version directly to Aprio, and an automatic notification alerts all directors of the update. Version confusion ceases to exist.

Improve boardroom communication and onboarding

Board portals like Aprio provide a centralized forum for board members to collaborate in real time between board meetings. With a board portal, older board materials are easily accessible and searchable in the Library. This is particularly useful for new directors during their onboarding, and is also convenient for any board member who wants to reference previous meeting materials.

Safeguard your security

Board portal software like Aprio allows directors to be confident that they are discussing confidential issues and reviewing documents in a secure online environment. Even if a director loses a device, the board’s app data can be cleared remotely to eliminate hacker risk. The director can then still easily access all their board meeting materials by logging into their board portal software on another device.

Aprio board portal software also conforms to the highest security standards in the industry and its international servers adhere to independent, third-party requirements for security certification. Administrators have full control over access permissions for committees, sub-committees, and even individuals, so only those who need to see documents are able to do so.

Make board meetings more efficient with board portal software

Boosting board meeting efficiency need not be a costly or a cumbersome change. With the guidance of Aprio’s service team of board administrators, your organization can have your new board portal technology in place in just weeks, and maybe even before your next board meeting!

Discover why hundreds of admins and board members love Aprio board portal software. We top the charts for positive customer reviews by providing ease of use, advanced security, complete features and standout time savings tools like our automated agenda builder and comprehensive reports. We provide premium features without premium pricing, all delivered with unmatched service. 

Ready to save time preparing for your next board meeting? Find out how to make board meetings more efficient with Aprio.

Ready to learn more about how to make board meetings more efficient? Book an Aprio demo

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