We hear all the time about the importance of preparation when it comes to holding effective meetings. In the case of virtual meetings, this is even more important. You need to make sure that everyone is able to access the meeting, even if they are not in the same place.
With an in-person meeting, it is easier to react quickly to any issues as everyone will face the same problem. Make sure you get your online meetings right first time by asking these questions before you start:
What Is The Core Purpose of the Meeting?
Why is the meeting taking place? If you cannot give a clear answer to this question, you should ask whether the meeting really needs to take place. You may have ended up in a meeting that could have been an email and there is no point wasting company time to encourage this approach.
To avoid this, outline the core purpose of the meeting before you begin to plan. This may have been established in the meeting minutes from the last meeting. If so, you can move onto the next steps on this list.
When Will The Meeting Take Place?
Before you begin to plan a meeting, you need to know when it will actually take place. Many important Board meetings are planned up to a year in advance and your company may already have a process in place for this. Scheduling a Board meeting will have a crucial influence on how the meeting will go, even if it just seems like a date on a calendar.
With a virtual meeting, you also need to account for the fact not everyone is in the same place. This can involve looking at time zones and international trends. For example, be careful not to schedule a Board meeting on a day that is a national holiday in a country where some of your members are based!
Who Will Be There?
It can be tempting to invite everyone possible to a Board meeting but this will get in the way of productivity and efficiency. No one should be present for the sake of it. Once you have decided the core purpose of the meeting, it should be easier to establish who should be there.
This doesn’t always just mean Board members! In many meetings, it is useful to invite other members of the Senior Leadership Team. If you are holding a meeting on the budget, it would be helpful to have the CFO present. But don’t get into the bad habit of inviting people just because they have been present in the past.
How Will Your Agenda Be Organised?
Now you have a general understanding of how the meeting will go, you can start to organise the agenda. The agenda is usually put together by the General Secretary or Board Administrator and will include an outline of everything you plan to discuss in the meeting.
We’ve written before about how to plan an effective agenda, but the essential point is that it should be clear and concise. Any action items should be emphasised as the most important part of the agenda so that you are not distracted by verbiage. Remember: an agenda is designed to keep you focused, not distract you from the point.
What Resources Will Be Needed?
One key part of preparation is making sure that everyone has the materials they need with time to use them effectively. No matter how perfect your Board Pack is, it will not be of use if you only send it out the day of the meeting.
Make sure you know well in advance what materials will be needed. Leave yourself time to compile the papers and factor in the amount of time it will take for participants to receive them.
We all know the struggle of waiting for the last paper to come in before you can send out the resources. In this case, it might be useful to have software that can allow you to edit the Board Pack with a simple drag-and-drop.
Is The Meeting Accessible?
Accessibility is important for everyone. If your entire team is able to contribute effectively, it will result in more dynamic Board Meetings. For this reason, you need to make sure that any technology you employ is accessible to everyone.
Part of this will include ensuring it has adequate accessibility features. This could include transcripts and text-to-voice features. However, it should also mean a generally intuitive interface that even the most technophobic participants will feel comfortable with.
Do You Have Adequate Security In Place?
You can’t afford to leave security until after the meeting. Before you even begin to compile the Board papers, you should feel confident that the compliance measures you have in place are adequate. The GDPR is very clear on the importance of having appropriate safeguards and processes.
Security means both cybersecurity measures and long-term data protection. If you are working with sensitive data, make sure that any data processor you work with has AES 256-bit encryption, which is the highest level available.
You also need to implement good internal practices. This can include taking control of roles and responsibilities within the meeting so that participants can only access the documents that they are authorised to.
Are You Getting The Most From Your Software?
The software you use to hold a virtual meeting is absolutely crucial to the running of the meeting itself. A Board Portal is a purpose-built solution to improve your meeting management.
Convene is an award-winning Board Portal designed to digitise and streamline your meeting processes from start-to-finish. Our comprehensive features include:
- A Document Library with role-based access to ensure your sensitive documents are protected.
- A built-in Audit Trail so you can be sure you are compliant with all regulations.
- Integrated Video Conferencing so you can make the switch from remote to hybrid working seamlessly, whilst still viewing your Board Pack all on one screen.
- Surveys, with the option for anonymity, so you can be sure you are aware of your employees' opinions.
- Accessibility Features, including text-to-voice, which makes us the leading accessible Board Portal.