Online board meetings can be an excellent option for non-profit boards that are unable or not willing to meet in person due to geographic constraints, travel expenses or busy schedules. They can be difficult to manage in a efficient way and ensure that everyone is engaged and included. However, following a few best practices will make these virtual meetings more effective and efficient.

It is important to clearly communicate meeting materials to board members prior to the meeting, so they can read and submit questions prior to the conference call. This will allow the meeting to be more focused, move quicker and generate better insights. Furthermore using a presentation software like Mentimeter will allow you to gather important insights from your attendees by way of engaging visuals. This information will then be included in the minutes of the meeting, thereby providing a permanent record that could be referred to in the future down the road.

Encourage participants to use their cameras to allow them to be able to see each other. This keeps everyone interested. Set ground rules to ensure everyone is treated equally. For instance the chair might request an raised hand to signal when someone is speaking. Also, they could ask participants to use their mutes when not speaking. It’s also a good thing to limit meetings to 90 minutes and avoid scheduling them around meals times so that attendees aren’t eating in front of cameras.

Set specific discussion topics and set time limits for each item. This will provide directors with a sense of urgency when it comes to addressing items on the agenda, as well as boost productivity. By focusing on specific topics, you can also cut down on distractions during meetings, like chatting with other directors and checking emails.