Your board members are often volunteers, donating their time and energy to help you accomplish your organization’s goals. A virtual board meeting is an increasingly popular way of accommodating your board members’ professional and personal schedules.
Technology is constantly bringing us new tools and extending its capabilities, such as remote attendance for meetings. The early virtual meeting tools weren’t perfect, but it has become easier and easier to design features and provide sufficient functionality to make these meetings a success as technologies developed, even for less tech savvy attendees.
No matter what kind of organization’s board you belong to, going virtual can help optimize results and accommodate schedules.
Regardless of your reason for going digital, you should invest strategically in the right remote board meeting tools to maximize your benefits. The purpose of this guide is to help you maximize productivity and engagement during virtual board meetings while taking a deeper dive into the topic.
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There could be various reasons for a board meeting to be held virtually, including travel expenses, a lack of time, and underlying health concerns. During a remote board meeting, you may experience many benefits that you were unaware of before engaging in a virtual event.
Virtual board meetings have numerous benefits, but the most popular are increased attendance, greater diversity of board members, and centralized governance.
You might find that virtual board meetings are the perfect solution if you’re struggling to reach quorum! By going virtual, you make the meeting more accessible and ensure that everyone can attend. By having the option, you significantly increase the chances of participation. Additionally, attendees will be more willing to participate if they won’t have to travel and spend money or forfeit other events in their life.
A diverse board is more likely to emerge when meetings are held remotely. This allows for a broader range of social and geographic diversity on your board.
Your board can achieve greater diversity with the ability to invite representatives from around the country or anywhere in the world, for that matter. A fresh perspective can provide enlightening insights, which can ultimately prove helpful when you’re making decisions out of the box.
There is a wide range of tools available today in virtual board meeting software for organizations to further their work. With tools like chat and note-taking, meetings will be simpler to plan and carry out, so there will be more time for strategic discussions and collaborative work.
The importance of following proper etiquette during virtual meetings has never been greater. Establishing the foundations upfront will help you host virtual board meetings more mindfully in the future.
Start by sharing these best practices with your attendees as you start using video conferencing tools:
You should first ensure that virtual board meetings are legal within your organization. Non-profit organizations may expressly prohibit these meetings in their internal bylaws, and state laws may even prohibit them in some cases. Before setting up a virtual board meeting, you should review these regulations.
Choosing the right time is critical if attendees are located in different time zones. Consider everyone’s lunch break and break time when choosing the meeting time.
Attendees should easily track topics and discussions, but this is more important when there are remote attendees. Use a mobile interface or a dedicated app to create a clear, dynamic schedule that can be accessed from any device to keep your meeting focused and on track at all times.
Recordings are not required for virtual meetings, but minutes still need to be taken. Normally, a meeting transcript would contain the quorum, actions discussed, approved, deferred, received, etc., but it is not required in most bylaws to stipulate if the meeting was virtual or in person.
Board directors can now vote remotely thanks to technology. The use of voting software systems, which are secure, transparent, and accurate, is one of the best practices for savvy boards. A number of boards prefer electronic voting due to the extra layer of security and remote access.
Historically, boards may have used email as the primary means of voting. In spite of seeming convenient, email had its downsides, first among them security. Text responses can also be ambiguous, so legal questions arise.
For many companies with December 31 year-ends, the season of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) has begun.
As a shareholder, the AGM is your only opportunity to question the board, talk directly with management, and hear what other shareholders have to say. In some jurisdictions, it’s not uncommon to hold virtual AGMs entirely online without corresponding physical meetings.
Legal uncertainty may exist in other areas about whether online shareholder meetings would meet all legislative requirements. Certain jurisdictions do not allow virtual meetings. Moreover, proxy advisers and institutional investors do not recommend virtual meetings. So, even for companies that include a provision in their constitutional documents that permits them to host a virtual AGM, this isn’t a method they will follow until the guidance changes.
Board members attend fully digital meetings virtually. As an alternative, boards can employ a hybrid approach, in which some members participate in the meetings in person while others participate remotely. Whether or not corporate boards and mission-driven organizations choose to go remote, the option offers plenty of opportunities.
Depending on local laws, companies may need to have provisions in their constitutions about hybrid board meetings where shareholders can attend a physical meeting and participate electronically. Those who have such requirements should consider moving to a hybrid board meeting to reduce attendance at physical locations if they haven’t done so already. We will need to engage a technology provider, adapt the shareholders’ meeting documents, and incur additional costs to accomplish this.
To maximize board member engagement and productivity in virtual board meetings, you’ll need to adjust a few specific factors that are unique to online versus in-person board meetings.
One of the challenges of virtual board meetings is keeping everyone engaged in the discussion.
To effectively keep everyone engaged, use some of these strategies:
Start the meeting by ensuring everyone speaks. By doing so, you establish a collaborative culture from the beginning. Furthermore, it serves as a wonderful reminder of those in attendance. A secretary may accomplish this by calling attendance and requiring each individual to announce they are present. You can also opt for an icebreaker activity in the virtual boardroom (such as saying something positive that happened that week).
Participants should feel free to ask questions and make comments during the meeting. Participants may forget their remarks if they are asked to wait until the end of the virtual board meeting. Furthermore, if your discussion has been lengthy, they will likely place their questions and comments on hold to end it and log out.
Ensure remote attendees are checked in periodically. When you are a remote participant, it can be hard to jump in and interject. A great way to increase engagement is by taking a moment after each main point during a meeting to ask everyone for their thoughts.
Make sure the discussion does not stall or lag. Give each agenda item a specific time. Also, try to use more slides than you usually do for an in-person meeting to keep the discussion moving.
If you want to improve governance, a great next step can be making virtual meetings simple and accessible. The first-for-service Aprio board portal will let you do just that.
Our virtual board meeting platform offers complete support for virtual board meetings for corporations and non-profit boards alike. The best part is that it is affordable for both businesses and mission-oriented organizations.
Discover how easy it is to set up, lead and join in virtual meetings with a demo of Aprio. We’re here to help!
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