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5 Tips to Prepare an Effective Board Agenda

January 19, 2018

Sometimes, board meetings have a tendency to run too long or veer off topic. Why? A lot of the time it comes down to the Board’s agenda and how often they stick to it during the meeting.

One of the reasons board meetings often run too long or veer off topic is because the board does not stick to an agenda. The following 5 tips for preparing an effective board agenda will help those issues from arising.

  1. Create a Consent Agenda: A consent agenda groups all routing reports into one agenda item. The consent agenda can then be voted on as one action item, rather than filing multiple actions on each item separately. Items that are typically found in a consent agenda include prior meeting minutes, the financials, executive director/chief executive officer’s report and more.
  2. Reserve Times for Agenda Items: Providing reserved times for each agenda item will allow for discussion on critical items, concerns and decision making. If the board spends too much time listening to reports rather than engaging in active discussion and debating critical issues the result can result in an ineffective meeting.
  3. Seek Input from Board Members: Request help. You want to keep your board members engaged during board meetings, so make sure agenda items reflect their needs. Ask board members to suggest agenda items along with a reason why each item needs to be addressed during the board meeting.
  4. Identify Responsibility: Each agenda item should be noted with the individual responsible. Identifying the individual responsible ensures that they know they are responsible and will prepare for leading the discussion point at the meeting.
  5. Focus Agenda items on Decisions Points, not Updates: Many boards focus their meetings on giving updates. Updates on programs, fundraising, budgets, committee reports, but these updates should be included in the consent agenda. Focus the agenda items on strategy, and decisions that affect the vision and mission of the organization.

Board meetings cover many different topics, from reviewing previous meetings and progress of assignments, to committee reports and round table discussions. This is a lot for one meeting! As with any meeting, careful planning will help direct the gathering and ensure that you are getting everything done that you need to. Starting with confirming the purpose of the meeting will help immensely in the agenda creation process.

Consult our Not-for-Profit Services Team for more information.

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