TSB 005: Host a Board Meeting People Seek to Attend

board development growth leadership nonprofit the saturday boardroom Sep 10, 2022
TSB 005: Host a Board Meeting People Seek to Attend

Read Time: 3 minutes 

This week's tip: Light a fire to turn your board meetings into events your members seek to attend.

Have you ever gone to a board meeting and struggled to stay awake? Maybe you hosted the meeting and struggled to keep people engaged?

What if you had a template to make your board meetings an event people look forward to?

I call it The BONFIRE Board Preparation Approach©.

I can’t take full credit for it, because my mother perfected it when she led the local Chamber of Commerce. I just documented and refined it as I began to serve on boards myself.

And it absolutely works.

Here’s how to start your BONFIRE:

  1. Begin with the ending. Choose the one thing you want to come out of the board meeting. What is the purpose of this specific gathering? What do you need board members to decide on or accomplish during or after the meeting?
  2.  Outline your approach to accomplish this one thing. Here are common examples:
    1.  Inform or educate on a difficult situation or crisis
    2.  Persuade to take a specific course of action
    3.  Motivate to accomplish a critical goal
  3.  Nurture creativity. Our brains get a rush of dopamine whenever we experience something in a new or fresh way. Novelty makes us happy, so be creative. Here are a few things you can plan to do:
    1.  Choose an interesting food, beverage, or snack (bonus points if it ties to the agenda or your nonprofit organization)
    2.  Invite a guest speaker to address the one thing you want to achieve
    3.  Choose a different room or location for the meeting (use sparingly)
    4.  Show a video designed to attract donors
    5.  Conduct a short icebreaker exercise when new members are added
    6.  Use role-play to demonstrate fundraising skills
  4.  Frame questions for your agenda. Consider the question(s) that agenda items and reports are designed to answer and develop key talking points to answer those questions in a pithy way while encouraging others to do the same. Here is an example of a common board agenda with questions in the reports section to give you some ideas and possibly serve as a guide.
    1. Call to Order
    2. Approval of the Agenda and the Minutes
    3. Reports
      1. Board President: Are there any introductions, strategic initiatives, or news the board should know and be prepared to act on?
      2.  Executive Director: Are there any risks, successes, additions, or departures the board should know and weigh in on?
      3.  Finance Director: Are we in a healthy or unhealthy financial position? What can the board do to assist?
      4.  Nominating Committee: Do we have a slate of officers to consider? Which positions still need board volunteers?
      5.  Governance Committee: Are there recruitment, policy, or succession matters the board should know and weigh in on?
      6.  Marketing and Public Relations Committee: How effective are the efforts to attract donors and volunteers to the organization, and what assistance can the board provide
    4. Old Business
    5. New Business
    6. Comments and Announcements
    7. Adjournment
  1.  Inform everyone on the agenda of their role, the amount of time they will have, and what the intended purpose (see item 1) is for this specific meeting. Enlist them as allies to support achieving that goal within the timeframe allotted.
  2.  Release the board meeting agenda and packet and include a statement on the one thing you hope to achieve from this meeting, i.e., a vote, a consensus, a clarification, a volunteer, etc.
  3.  Engage with enthusiasm during the meeting and take note of what you and others enjoyed about the meeting so you can build on it going forward.

Try The BONFIRE Board Preparation Approach© for three meetings and let me know how it goes.  I can't wait to hear how it works for you.  

Here's the short version: 

1.  Begin with the ending.

2. Outline your approach.

3. Nurture creativity.

4. Frame questions for your agenda.

5. Inform everyone on the agenda of their role.

6. Release the board meeting agenda and packet.

7. Engage with enthusiasm during the meeting.


 See you again next Saturday.

Whenever you're ready, there are three ways we can help you:

  1. Register for one of our upcoming workshops here
  2. Book me to speak at your upcoming event here.
  3. Explore our consulting services here.

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