We’ve all been there: you’re at a board meeting, and you feel like a clock is ticking down on your life. You try to ask questions and make points, but it feels like no one’s listening. You’re there because you want the best for your company, and you want to make sure things get done. But sometimes, even you can lose track of time—and then the meeting ends without any of the topics being addressed.
If that sounds familiar, we have some good news for you: it’s not just you! Board meetings are notoriously difficult to manage because they involve so many people with different agendas and time constraints. That’s why we have these simple time management “lifehacks” for more productive board meetings:
Make Sure All Board Members Are Prepared
If you have a meeting with your board, make sure everyone is prepared. This means sending out materials well in advance and keeping everyone up-to-date on any changes to the agenda. If you have trouble getting people to prepare for the meeting, consider sending out an email reminder the day before with a link to the materials needed and another reminder the morning of (if needed).
The last thing you want to do is waste time going over things that have been sent out in advance. Make sure all board members have read through the board meeting agenda and understand what they need to come prepared for.
Plan A Clear Agenda Ahead Of Time
A clear agenda is essential for any board meeting, especially if it’s a longer one. It’s important to have an agenda set up before you start your meeting so that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be discussing and when they’re supposed to be discussing it. This will help keep the meeting on track throughout its duration, ensuring that nothing gets missed or forgotten about during the course of the meeting itself.
Start The Board Meeting On Time
Starting your board meeting on time is one of the most important things you can do when managing time during a meeting. If you start late, people will likely be distracted and not as focused when discussing important issues such as new products or client feedback. You want all of your employees’ attention so that they can give their best input into these conversations.
Besides, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for someone to show up—especially when you’re running a tight schedule, and you have to keep slipping in and out of your meeting so that you can get other things done. Instead of wasting valuable time waiting for people to arrive, start your meeting on time. It may require some preparation ahead of time, but it will save everyone time in the long run.
Use Board Meeting Software
In addition to starting on time, make sure everyone uses the same software when they participate in your meetings. Use board meeting software to keep track of all your meeting documents and notes, so you don’t lose track of anything important during your meeting. This will also help everyone stay focused on the most important topics instead of getting distracted by non-essential details.
Board members should be able to submit questions or comments through a web portal so that they don’t have to wait until after the meeting to get their questions answered or suggestions heard. This way, they can contribute as soon as they become aware of something they want to bring up during the meeting itself—and not just passively listen while thinking about what they might want to say once it’s too late.
Set A Timer And Stick To It
When you set a timer for your meeting, it helps everyone stay on track and stay focused on the topic at hand. You’ll be able to see how long each person has been talking, and you’ll also be able to see how long everyone has had to speak for the entire meeting so far (which will help with making sure everyone gets an equal voice). You can also use timers when giving presentations or breaking into groups for discussions—they’re great for keeping everyone on task.
This way, you can also see where time was wasted in previous meetings and improve upon them going forward. It’s also a great way to get feedback from your team about what parts of your meeting they enjoyed and which ones they didn’t enjoy so much.
Turn Off All Devices And Distractions
Everyone has their own way of staying focused in meetings, but you can make things even easier for yourself by turning off all your devices before the meeting starts—and then keeping them off during the duration of the meeting. This means no texting or checking emails during breaks or when someone else is talking—just focus on what’s happening right now.
It’s easy to get distracted by phone notifications or emails during a board meeting, especially when they’re coming in from your boss or higher-ups in your company. If possible, make sure everyone knows ahead of time that cell phones are off-limits during the meeting so there are no surprises.
Ditch The Small Talk
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t need a board meeting to catch up on gossip. So, if your meeting starts with a few minutes of chitchat, you’re wasting precious time that could be spent on actual business. Instead of starting with small talk, start right in with the important stuff—the plan and any key updates. It’ll help build a sense of urgency, and it’ll also make sure everyone gets an equal chance to get their points across.
Remember, you don’t need to be friends with every person on your board—you just need them to respect each other so that they can work together effectively. If there’s something going on in someone’s life that isn’t relevant to work but makes them feel comfortable enough to share it with others, then sure—but otherwise? Keep it professional!
Board meetings are as much a part of business as they are a necessary evil. They’re not only necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page with company goals and projects, but they also offer an opportunity for employees to get direct feedback from their superiors.
Time management is key during board meetings—you have to make sure you cover all of the necessary topics in order to keep everyone engaged and satisfied. While there are many ways to improve time management during board meetings, we hope these seven essential “lifehacks” have helped you get some ideas for your next meeting.