Improving Efficiency At Board Meetings

Posted: Updated:
Chris Mennel Chris Mennel

Unproductive board meetings waste time, demotivate board members and frustrate staff.  While most boards function relatively well, they may not be functioning at their highest level. Here are several simple changes you can make right now that will keep your meetings productive and on target.

Implement a consent agenda. A consent agenda is a single action item at the start of board meetings that typically includes board minutes, financial information, and anything else that may need approval but can be distributed and read by board members ahead of time.  Many boards start off the meeting by reading the prior minutes, but this can disengage members right off the bat.  Instead, ensure consent items are distributed in advance and save time by only discussing questions and then approving the consent agenda.

Reinforce your mission and goals. Board members rotate on and off, making it easy for management to forget that the current board members may not have a thorough knowledge of the mission and goals of the organization. Also, while an annual retreat is a good way to create goals, it shouldn’t be the only time this is done. Taking a small amount of time to update the board on what is taking place from a programming standpoint, including what new projects or tasks are coming up, and also recapping the goals identified by the board can put the rest of the meeting into perspective.  Asking a recipient who has benefited from the organization to say a few words about his/her experience can also encourage board members to work harder, give more and become more involved.

Create a detailed meeting agenda. Agendas are often standard from one meeting to the next with committee heads giving updates and then covering new and old business.  To keep meetings fresh, try creating a more detailed agenda that lists individual goals rather than a simple committee update.  While discussing these goals, select an individual to champion each goal. Then that individual will be responsible to see it through and update the board on its progress.

Begin and end each meeting on time. This will set an ongoing expectation that you value the board’s time and want the meetings to be productive and succinct. Everyone will be prepared to get down to business and stay focused. If one or two members dominate the meeting, the president can ask them to finish their points so the meeting can move on to other topics.

Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Aside from meetings, if you don’t feel your board runs efficiently, perhaps a self-assessment will help.  

Do you have any gaps in board expertise that need to be filled?

Is the board fulfilling the organization’s mission and goals?

An assessment of how the board is performing is the best way for everyone to fully understand their roles and duties. Asking each member to reflect on his or her role will identify whether or not everyone is on the same page. Then you can make adjustments accordingly. The National Council Nonprofits has an excellent tool to assist with self-assessments.

Eventually, you will then be able to measure the board’s effectiveness in supporting the mission. Boards that assess their performance regularly perform better on core responsibilities.

Running an efficient board meeting helps everyone to stay focused, energizes board members and leads to improving the overall effectiveness of the board.

  • Perspectives

    • Regional Investment Proposal Could be a Game Changer for Quality of Place Initiatives in Indiana

      While quality of place may be defined differently by people, a growing number of Hoosiers recognize the importance of this issue. In particular, the impact of quality of place on talent attraction and retention in a geographic area cannot be ignored. The future of every community is dependent on quality of place. Like many Midwestern states, Indiana is not growing at the same pace as areas in the southern and western regions of the United States.



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • GPC is a subsidiary of Kent Corp.

      Ag Manufacturer Begins Expansion

      Iowa-based Grain Processing Corp. has broken ground on an expansion project in Daviess County, which has been more than four years in the making. The company is investing $70 million to expand its Washington plant, which could create up to 20 jobs when complete.

    • Chromcraft Revington Acquisition Complete

      A Colorado company has completed its previously-announced acquisition of West Lafayette-based Chromcraft Revington Inc. As a result of the $3.5 million deal, Chromcraft will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of...
    • Purdue Touts New Autism Research Center

      Purdue University says it will expand community programs, resources, collaborations and faculty members researching autism with the development of its new Purdue Autism Research Center. The center has 20 faculty members from the colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Education, Science and Veterinary Medicine.

    • IU Kelley Tops U.S News and World Report Rankings

      Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is ranked first among online MBA programs and online master's programs in the most recent U.S. News and World Report Best Online Education Program rankings. Ball State University's Miller College of Business also reached the top 20 in the online MBA rankings.

    • Skilled Nursing Facility Proposed for Merrillville

      A new $7 million skilled nursing facility is being proposed in Merrillville. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the development would include five residential buildings outfitted with 12 beds, a dining area, beauty salon and spa.