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If you want to establish your company as a better place to work, running productive and effective meetings is one of the best places to start. One of the ways to do this is to make an effort to engage everyone present in the discussion.
But how exactly do you do that? It’s important to listen and actively engage with your team during a meeting. Here are four tips for productive board meeting etiquette, especially for women entrepreneurs who want to lead their companies to new frontiers without breaking a sweat.
Get the Right People in the Room
Making sure you’re meeting with the right people in the room is the first step to making a successful board meeting. If you don’t have the right people in the room, you won’t get the right outcomes. Make sure you bring only those who are necessary for a particular meeting to ensure that you keep it short and efficient.
Your board meetings should be about getting direction and making decisions that move your business forward, so you want to make sure you’re only inviting people who have a stake in that process. If someone isn’t invested in what’s going on with your company, they shouldn’t be taking up space at your meeting.
Stick to the Agenda and Time Limits
Before the meeting starts, everyone should know what topics will be discussed. Also, make sure that you stick to the time limit—if there’s no time left at the end of the meeting, save certain topics for another day, so everyone has an opportunity to speak up if they need or want to do so.
Your board meetings shouldn’t be a free-for-all. Make sure everyone knows what they’ll be discussing beforehand, and stick to it — even if someone brings up an important topic that wasn’t on the agenda. This keeps things moving along orderly and ensures that no one wastes time on irrelevant topics.
It can be tempting to go off-topic in a board meeting, but try not to do this. Stick to the board meeting agenda, and don’t let people ramble on too long about topics that aren’t relevant to what you need from them at the moment.
Don’t Use Board Meetings as a Gossip Session
One of the most common mistakes people make when leading a meeting is to let it go off track. If people want to talk about what happened last week or how they feel about something that happened at work yesterday, they can do it after work — not during a board meeting!
During these meetings, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable speaking up, so they can give their opinions honestly and openly without fear of judgment from others present. That means not talking about anything unrelated to the board meeting.
Many women entrepreneurs have found that by encouraging feedback from all parties involved, they can create a much more productive conversation overall.
If someone doesn’t want to speak up during a meeting, asking them what their thoughts are in advance can help them prepare their ideas so they feel more comfortable sharing them during the meeting itself. This will also give you an idea of how much time you should allot each person during the meeting.
You don’t have to be a woman CEO to appreciate the value of a great board. With that said, your board should be efficient and effective.
Take charge of the meeting and ask questions, but most importantly, be ready to keep an open mind. Be prepared — you never know when someone around the table might put forward a suggestion that will take your business plan in a completely new direction.