By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management
Recently, many of you held your monthly board meetings remotely. Maybe that was new for your credit union, or you might have been doing them that way for awhile. As we all get more used to connecting through technology, it’s a good time to step back and ask yourself if it makes sense to continue virtual meetings, and how to make them the best they can be. Here are a few tips to improve them:
Define Meeting Goals
In order to have the best meeting possible, you need to determine what you want to accomplish and your goals for doing so. Is it important to be done in an hour, no matter what? Do you want to ensure each board member can have time to tell you how they feel about each agenda item?
Once the goals are established, they need to be communicated so all board members can work to achieve them. If half the group is striving to be done as quickly as possible, and the other half wants more time to hear why a proposal is made, you have a disconnect before you even start. That could leave some feeling they were not valued or didn’t get to provide necessary input.
Use the Right Technology
Change is always hard, and being thrown into the “deep end” as many of you were when COVID came along adds to the difficulty of adjusting. There are many ways to do a meeting remotely, whether by phone or through computer software. Just because you started with one type of technology doesn’t mean you have to use it forever.
Use the goals you defined above, and do a test meeting or a training meeting just to talk about features and how to use them. Whether you have an IT person join you to offer assistance, or rely on a training video the software provides online, learning how to use features is the key to a smooth and successful virtual meeting. Knowing how to mute/unmute or share a presentation on a screen can avoid wasting meeting time or making people feel they can’t participate at the level they desire because they fear making a mistake.
Ask for Feedback
One of the most powerful conversations I have witnessed was to hear a board chair ask a board member, who regularly called into meetings, how the meetings were for him and what they could do to improve his experience. The other gentleman provided great feedback that he had a hard time hearing presentations and that at times, questions asked by others away from the microphone were not easy to understand. That led to discussion of some options on how they could best remedy those issues.
It was impressive that the chair asked, and he seemed committed to use it as a learning moment to improve future meetings. Getting some feedback could be the key to improving your next meeting too.
We are all anxious to return to more in-person experiences, but a lot of that is unknown right now. Planning and being prepared for hosting great virtual meetings may take some stress off a situation when it has to be done that way. And, at the end of the day, others can learn from your experiences too, so let me know if you have anything to share about best practices or ‘please don’t do it this way’ methods.