Eleven Tips for Speedier Board Meetings

By Douglas M. Kleine

  1. Start on time. Even if there is not a quorum, you can cover various announcements, resident input or other non-action  items.
  2. Tackle the most important issues early. Nothing says that approval of minutes, treasurer’s report, etc., have to be first on the agenda. Spend your energy on the tough things first. Do the routine things last when people are tired.
  3. Use a “consent” calendar to take care of non-controversial items that are likely to have unanimous approval. Acceptance of all the committee reports and adoption of routine motions can be lumped together into one big motion (allow any board member to ask to remove an item from the consent calendar). The consent motion should be written up in advance and made part of the agenda package.
  4. Recognize that some controversial items may have to be handled in more than one meeting. Use the first meeting for discussion and let everyone know that action will not be taken until the next meeting.    Use your committees to shape the debate. Encourage interested board members and shareholders to attend the committee meetings and   observe and ask questions  there.
  5. Use “public hearings” for matters that have a lot of detail or that affect many people. Many cooperatives use hearings to explain the proposed budget or to get community input on a new rule before the matter goes to the board.
  6. Respect the work of your committees and also insist that committees do their homework. If sloppy committee work comes to the board, don’t try to fix it at the board meeting; send it back to committee, instead.
  7. Set expectations. Announce that 15 minutes has been reserved for an agenda item and ask that discussion conform to that limit. If you see things dragging on, use one of the techniques below.
  8. If nearly everyone is in favor, move on to a formal vote and cut out needless discussion.Take a straw poll. How many times have you seen an hour’s worth of discussion followed by a unanimous vote? Part way into the discussion ask for a non-binding show of hands as to agreement on the issue.
  9. Alternate recognizing speakers for and against a matter. If you ask for anyone speaking against and no one raises their hand, further debate is  not necessary. Go to a vote.
  10. Schedule meetings when people are fresh. If your evening meetings are running past 9:30 p.m., experiment with 7:30 a.m. on a weekday, or 10:30 on a Saturday morning. Morning meetings create their own need for a quick ending, so that members can go about their business for the day.

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Eleven Tips for Speedier Board Meetings

By Douglas M. Kleine

  1. Start on time. Even if there is not a quorum, you can cover various announcements, resident input or other non-action  items.
  2. Tackle the most important issues early. Nothing says that approval of minutes, treasurer’s report, etc., have to be first on the agenda. Spend your energy on the tough things first. Do the routine things last when people are tired.
  3. Use a “consent” calendar to take care of non-controversial items that are likely to have unanimous approval. Acceptance of all the committee reports and adoption of routine motions can be lumped together into one big motion (allow any board member to ask to remove an item from the consent calendar). The consent motion should be written up in advance and made part of the agenda package.
  4. Recognize that some controversial items may have to be handled in more than one meeting. Use the first meeting for discussion and let everyone know that action will not be taken until the next meeting.    Use your committees to shape the debate. Encourage interested board members and shareholders to attend the committee meetings and   observe and ask questions  there.
  5. Use “public hearings” for matters that have a lot of detail or that affect many people. Many cooperatives use hearings to explain the proposed budget or to get community input on a new rule before the matter goes to the board.
  6. Respect the work of your committees and also insist that committees do their homework. If sloppy committee work comes to the board, don’t try to fix it at the board meeting; send it back to committee, instead.
  7. Set expectations. Announce that 15 minutes has been reserved for an agenda item and ask that discussion conform to that limit. If you see things dragging on, use one of the techniques below.
  8. If nearly everyone is in favor, move on to a formal vote and cut out needless discussion.Take a straw poll. How many times have you seen an hour’s worth of discussion followed by a unanimous vote? Part way into the discussion ask for a non-binding show of hands as to agreement on the issue.
  9. Alternate recognizing speakers for and against a matter. If you ask for anyone speaking against and no one raises their hand, further debate is  not necessary. Go to a vote.
  10. Schedule meetings when people are fresh. If your evening meetings are running past 9:30 p.m., experiment with 7:30 a.m. on a weekday, or 10:30 on a Saturday morning. Morning meetings create their own need for a quick ending, so that members can go about their business for the day.

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