Board Meetings > virtual-meetings > Best Practice Virtual Meeting

Best Practices for Virtual Meetings

Board meetings can be challenging no matter the circumstance and should always have a set of procedures for the board to follow. This is especially true for virtual meetings where technology and a lack of verbal cues can make things more difficult.

If you are wondering how to best prepare for your virtual board meetings, consider these questions:

Board members are pushing back on meeting virtually

If members complain and want to postpone…

Explain to them that the board is the governing body of the nonprofit, and their support is essential in leading the organization through this crisis. The board should be meeting right now to discuss how the organization is responding to the crisis and how they can support the CEO and stakeholders, the mission, and the future of the organization.

Also remind them that meeting virtually has many benefits, especially being able to show up from the comfort of their own home.

Other benefits include:

  • less travel expenses for the board member and the organization
  • usually a more efficient meeting once everyone has acclimated and if you have a good facilitator
Preparing for a virtual meeting

Create SOPs for meeting virtually, and share it with all board members in advance of the first meeting.

By creating a set of standing operating procedures (SOPs) you have essentially established a set of rules and norms that board members can reference to help create a seamless meeting. The following topics should be covered:

  • Technology – ensure all have access and test the technology before the meeting.
  • Agenda – the CEO and board chair should think carefully about the agenda – what makes sense to cover in the meeting and what can be handled over email. Especially in times of crisis, when everyone’s time is valuable, creating an agenda that goes over the most essential information can be extremely helpful.

Check out these resources:

How often should we hold meetings?

When should boards and committees meet during Covid-19?

Just as in ordinary times, there is no “right” number of times the board should meet. Meeting frequency should be based on how much the board needs to accomplish. Make sure that your board is taking the time to react to what is happening, having the discussions it needs , and is carefully considering the decisions that need to be made.

It’s the same for committees. Committees needs to react to the work load they are given. It is not unusual during a crisis for the board to take a closer look at items that have been generally taken up in committee meetings (programs or finance as an example) but, if the board is looking for recommendations or needs more research, then the committee activity may need to ramp up. Remember, form always follows function and you should have the ability to react quickly instead of creating hard and fast rules for meeting frequency.

Voting during a virtual meeting

Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer to this question

Before we dive into determining how you can vote during a virtual meeting, you will need to:

  1. Check your state laws and bylaws. Every state is different in terms of how a board can officially vote – Board Effect has created this great resource that allows you to find your states meeting laws.
  2. Determine which way is best for your board: boards can vote via video conferencing, telephone or email (depending on your state laws)
    • If you can meet by video, you should. This will allow you the ability to vote during the meeting and increase engagement. It also makes it easier on the facilitator who can read the body language of participants.  This is a great time to get less tech savvy board members comfortable with videoconferencing. Let them know you will help get them up to speed with a personal tutorial or video tutorial for beginners like zoom offers. If you must meet via conference call, check out here.
    • While not a replacement for board meetings, voting by email is also an option that can help with decision-making between meetings, but often you must have unanimous consent on a matter- this protects a board member’s right to question the action or insist that the board discuss the matter. Not all states allow for email voting and it is not always a safe/secure option.Check this resource.
  1. No matter what, always double check your state laws – in most cases you can find these on your state attorney general’s website or your state nonprofit association’s website. You can find your state association on the National Council of Nonprofit’s website.

Tips for voting during virtual meetings:

  • If you know a vote will be happening at your next virtual meeting, let board members know ahead of the meeting about the vote and give them any documentation or information they will need to make a decision.
  • Just as in an in-person meeting, make sure the question on which you are voting is clearly asked and understood.

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