Virtual board meetings have the same purpose as traditional ones. They allow a board of directors to hold scheduled meetings to review the company’s past performance and to discuss plans and strategies for the future. The only significant difference is that a virtual board provides businesses with the opportunity to do that remotely with the help of board software.
Conveniently, this means that there is no need for board members to gather in an office. Instead, they can participate from their homes or any other suitable place. The only things attendees need to organize and engage in online board meetings are conferencing tools or board development software and an internet connection.
Even though such a format brings much more convenience, it’s still an official part of the company life cycle, so team members should always maintain virtual meeting etiquette. Attendees should log in on time, be prepared to discuss the agenda, and stay focused by ignoring cell phone notifications, for example.
Other common video meeting courtesies include muting your device unless speaking to cut down on unnecessary noise, waiting to be recognized before speaking as it can be difficult to keep track of speakers, and taking extra care to speak slowly and clearly. This last point is important because sound quality can vary drastically — especially if the meeting attendees include non-native English speakers.
All of these details are crucial as a virtual board meeting is an essential part of the business world. This is an excellent opportunity for the top management and team members to discuss their company’s progress, challenges, and ways to solve them.
Usually, a meeting board includes such topics as:
- company performance
- upcoming development plans
- problems facing the company
- a concrete plan of actions
Surprisingly for many companies, a digital meeting is easier to set up than a traditional in-person one. Why? Because automatization tools help deal with needed processes before, during, and after meetings. Usually, even simple steps might require much time and effort from board members. Fortunately, using online board meeting software streamlines the whole process.
Guide to conducting virtual board meetings
Even though any board meeting by video conferencing is less time- and effort-consuming, it still requires appropriate preparations to ensure a seamless process for every member. To succeed, a board of directors needs to set a concrete plan of action. Let’s have a closer look.
1. Pre-meeting steps:
Find the right platform
Choosing an appropriate platform for hosting digital meetings might seem like an easy task as the digital market is full of options. However, a board of directors has to pay attention to many aspects, such as security, accessibility, user-friendliness, and a wide range of other tools.
Do a test checkup
The main challenge of online board meetings is overcoming technical issues. That’s why it’s crucial for team members to do their best to prevent any failure before starting. A pre-meeting “soundcheck” should include checking the internet, audio, and video connections. Of course, some technical issues might still arise. In that case, moderators should be ready with an alternative plan.
Create a specific agenda
A clear structure of a digital board meeting considerably enhances the whole process. Having a list of topics that a team needs to discuss is what will keep everyone focused. Also, to help ensure preparedness, the board of directors should email copies of the virtual meeting agenda to attendees well in advance.
Confirm participants’ access
Before starting a meeting, team members must receive access to the platform as well. Many participants are interested in the question: Can nonboard members attend board meetings? Yes, they can but only with board-granted permission. One more topic for discussion is who can attend nonprofit board meetings. That, however, depends on the specific rules set by each individual organization.
2. Steps to take during a meeting:
Remind attendees of proper etiquette
To keep a meeting in order, it’s best to start it off by reviewing board meeting etiquette. For example, participants have to remember how important it is not to get distracted by a phone or email notifications. That’s why they should turn their phones off or, at least, turn on airplane mode.
Interacting might be challenging for some participants, so it’s crucial for moderators of digital meetings to encourage everyone to share their thoughts, ideas, and ask questions. The best way to do that is to make sure all the attendees introduce themselves at the beginning and have a chance to speak during the meeting.
Decide on the next steps
As the primary purpose of the board meetings is to track the company’s performance and set a clear development plan, all the participants should be made aware of the needed steps for moving the company forward. This means that all team members should understand their tasks and be mindful of their deadlines as well.
3. Post-meeting steps
Send out minutes
Once the digital board meeting is over, a director of the board should take care of reviewing the minutes and sending them to all participants. This helps the team, as they provide attendees with the main points discussed in the meeting and present a clear plan of action.
Ask for feedback
Usually, moderators ask about attendees’ feedback, comments, or suggestions at the end of digital meetings, but someone might be uncomfortable sharing them publicly. That’s why it’s a great idea to create a survey or questionnaire where all the participants can share their thoughts.
Benefits of using remote meetings
This type of team gathering became especially popular at the start of the 2020’s global pandemic. Companies realized that effective virtual meetings help to keep all members safe by eliminating the need for physical presence.
Even when the strict quarantine period ended in many countries, companies continued using remote meetings. According to PwC, a recent survey of 669 CEOs showed that 78% believe that remote collaboration is here to stay. Let’s take a closer look at the five main advantages of using virtual board meetings.
1. More time-efficient
In-person team meetings are more time-consuming than remote board hosting. The primary reason is that it’s easier to find a convenient time for everyone as team members don’t need to commute. According to a recent SWNS survey in the New York Post, on average, American employees spend 19 full workdays a year commuting to the office — with the average daily round-trip taking approximately 70 minutes.
Besides that, a remote meeting also shortens the time needed for team members to deal with their everyday tasks. That’s because there are much fewer distractions at home that draw their attention away than at the office. According to a lifesize survey, 89% of respondents agree that video-format communication reduces the time needed to complete their work projects.
2. Reduce costs
Many aspects of face-to-face meetings increase costs. For example, simply driving to and from the office — besides spending nearly three weeks a year in the car — costs about $83 per week. Lifesize calculated that working from home, even half the time, would save companies approximately $11,000 per team member annually. Yes, online boards require less time, but they still mean hundreds of thousands of saved costs.
Moreover, remote working decreases the turnover rate by up to 25%. That means companies don’t have to spend a considerable amount of money replacing workers. According to the statistics, the expense associated with hiring and training only one new employee can cost as much as half to twice their annual salary. Such results also define board meetings as an effective HR tool.
3. Increased productivity
Attending digital boards allows team members to attend from any suitable location, such as a home, a quiet cafe, or open space. Thanks to that, the convenience and efficiency of online meetings significantly increases, and so does team members’ productivity. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey, 75% of respondents agree that convenience, efficiency, and team member productivity significantly increase during a virtual board meeting.
Additionally, such a digital solution provides any team with a list of tools that can help better organize meeting processes. Let’s take a look at a few:
- a virtual idea board records all team brainstorming ideas and results, so everyone can access them
- virtual board meeting software that optimizes the whole process with the help of digital tools
- a virtual sign-in board that improves team communication by showing what members are doing and if they are available
4. Broader team member diversity
With the help of an online board, companies and organizations are no longer hindered by location. Anyone with a device connected to the internet can join a remote board meeting. That means teams can invite new members from all over the world. Thus, it enriches meetings with fresh ideas and makes it easier to find solutions to challenges.
One more advantage of hosting a board online is that team members don’t have to spend time writing a board meeting invitation. Instead, online programs automatically generate the video conference link, so they can easily share it with everyone from the attendee list.
Challenges of virtual board meetings
The first time company executives around the globe truly embraced the virtual board meeting meaning was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it was a period when many companies faced digital board challenges.
The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) conducted a survey, asking over 2000 executives about their biggest challenges during the pandemic. Perhaps not surprisingly, 68% of respondents listed losing nonverbal communication between meeting members, and 35% mentioned technological problems that affect meetings. Let’s check out these challenges — and a few more.
Lack of nonverbal communication
Nonverbal information, a.k.a. facial expression, gestures, tone of voice, make up to 70% of a conversation’s social meaning. If all this can be easily noticed and interpreted in person, it’s certainly much harder during virtual meetings. That’s why it often leads to misunderstandings.
In his article, The Importance of Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Meetings, published in Training magazine, Jeff Wolf recommends using remote meeting etiquette that can make your board meetings more productive and collaborative. For instance, nodding helps you reinforce what you say. In the same way, keeping eye contact is crucial in virtual communication as it is during in-person communication. And lastly, sitting up straight indicates your interest in the conversation and transmits your confidence.
According to Hubstaff, setting remote teams helps increase employee productivity, satisfaction level, and saves the company up to $10,000 annually. However, using board meeting software isn’t always smooth sailing.
A tech-savvy board director should be acquainted with the most basic remote meeting tools and, consequently, should be able to help employees master them. Among the most commonly used options that a board director should test beforehand so that there won’t be any troubles during meetings are:
- the mute or unmute function
- option for turning the video on/off
- setting the background
- screen sharing
- dismissing participants
According to the article, The Surprising Science Behind Successful Remote Meetings, in
MIT Sloan Management Review only around 50% of meeting board time is effective and engaging. And the number is even lower when it comes to virtual meetings.
Some employees are naturally quiet and have a more reflective conversational style. On the other hand, a board director can overuse being in the spotlight. If the former is out of your control, the latter can be resolved. Here’s how:
- ask your employees beforehand to learn how to create an agenda for a virtual team meeting;
- start your meetings with energy as your good mood sets the tone for your employees;
- facilitate responses from different staff members;
- use voting tools;
- ask for feedback at the end of the meeting.
Since the increase in Zoom usage, there have been numerous reports of meetings being infiltrated by pranksters or hackers. Over 10% of employees had their video conferences hacked. Additionally, if school video classes suffer the loss of students’ attention, imagine how critical the damage could be for board conferences.
It’s advisable for enterprises to invest in a reliable board meeting portal. Even if it already exists, reassessing the software’s security features is recommended. Virtual meeting’s best practices require not only data encryption but also two-factor authentication, internal data storage, and remote data wiping.
According to the general virtual meeting definition, it is the solution that helps companies and organizations host a gathering of team members online. That means it helps to reduce the time, costs, and efforts needed for boards of directors to discuss the crucial aspects of a companies’ performance.
If you are one of those who struggle with the question, how to make your own meeting, there is good news for you. A successful remote meeting is easy to host with the help of board meeting rules and some digital tools, such as virtual board meeting software or a virtual message board. All you need is a concrete plan of action — but you do have to stick to it.
What is a virtual board meeting?
A virtual board meeting is an online gathering of board members. A key characteristic of virtual meetings is that their participants can join remotely from any device that has an internet connection.
Should virtual board meetings be recorded?
Recording a meeting without the consent of every participant is a punishable offense. Before recording it, you should notify your employees and get their consent. Otherwise, you might be fined up to $5,500.
Are virtual board meetings legal?
Generally, yes. However, you should refer to the laws of your company’s location. They may govern the frequency and manner of holding your meetings.
What do you put in a virtual meeting?
Before your virtual meeting takes place, you should create a meeting agenda. It should include talking points, everyone’s individual responsibilities, and links to any needed files or documents. Also, an agenda should be sent to every participant beforehand.
How do you make a virtual meeting productive?
Firstly, you need to make sure your employees get the agenda in time as they need time to prepare for the meeting. Define your meeting objectives and norms in the beginning. And lastly, actively engage the participants.
What are some fun ways to start a virtual meeting?
There are plenty of icebreakers that you can find online for free. Moreover, you can simply start by playing question-based games. For instance, ask one of your employees to think of an animal and let others guess it.
How do I start a virtual meeting?
Depending on the software you’re using, you can use the scheduling function for setting up a meeting. Then create a link or invitation for the participants and send it out.
How do I participate in a virtual meeting?
Once you’ve received the notification for a meeting, set the date in your calendar. Shortly before the meeting is set to start, follow the link to connect. It’s best to connect approximately 15 to 10 min before the meeting begins to do a voice-check — this will give a window of time to correct any audio or video issues.