Non-profit consultant Bob Harris has a great list of ways to end "Board Room Blahs." Here are 5 of my favorites:
"1. Put a 'Mega Issue' on every agenda. Spotlight one item that will make a difference and deserves more time and attention. Call it the mega or spotlight issue so board members are eager to get through the reports and to the more meaningful project. [Note from Cindy: I would likely only include a spotlight issue on 1-2 agendas per year instead of every agenda - as I find it's difficult to have time for additional discussions on every agenda.]
2. Save time. Use a consent agenda to reduce reports by distributing them in advance and asking for one motion to accept the consent items.
3. Stay focused. Keep a copy of the strategic plan on the Board table. Better yet, laminate a copy that directors know will be a resource at the meeting.
4. Consistent messaging. Take 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to decide on the main message that directors should communicate to members. Create an executive summary or 'One Voice' and distribute to directors so they deliver consistent messages after each meeting.
5. Assess meeting effectiveness. Use the back of the agenda for 1 or 2 questions to ask before the meeting adjourns: a) Did the meeting advance the mission and serve the members; b) What can we do to improve our next board meeting?"
A complete list of (free) resources and templates for Boards of Directors can be found at this link.
Note: Bob Harris, CAE, offers free governance and management samples at www.nonprofitcenter.com. Bob notes ideas in the "Board Room Blahs" are compiled from "experience and colleagues on ASAE's listservs."