COVID-19 may have propelled us into a video-first world, but the truth is, we were already headed there - and this includes corporate boards. It makes sense - boards are often made up of executives who live around the country and sometimes around the globe.
Execs have busy schedules, and coordinating for 15 people to gather for two days in person is a job in and of itself. So transitioning to video makes sense! But for corporate boards to switch to video - what do they need to know?
Invest in a professional setup
Something we saw a lot of over the last year were home office bloopers - families and dogs running through the background of a meeting, poorly positioned cameras, videos on when they were thought to be off. Who can forget the lawyer who held a whole meeting with a kitten filter obscuring his face?
For a board to switch to a video-only or video optional system, there should be guidelines surrounding how people participate. Of course - life happens - and you can’t resist the dog jumping on your lap. But sending board members equipment such as cameras to affix to their computers or phones or creating backdrops that everyone can use for consistency purposes will make the virtual experience seem less isolating and bring cohesion to the group.
Create a process
When a board meeting is held in person, there is an ebb and flow of how the session runs. You can see everyone in the room, you know when someone has something to say, and it is challenging to have side conversations or objectively zone out of the conversation. For boards that decide to go virtual or virtual-optional, they need to develop a process for how the meeting will run, how people will participate and be recognised, and keep people engaged while in the forum. Make this process clear to all board members, send this information out in advance, and reinforce it at the beginning to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Be mindful of time
Just like in-person meetings, virtual meetings can feel long. Especially for boards that decide to go entirely virtual for meetings, there needs to be time to break and allow board members to connect more casually. Even though people are at home, you should not assume that “comfort” is increased - we are all human, and we all need breaks. Be mindful of that and plan for holidays throughout the meeting.
One benefit of holding meetings in person is that you have more control over security, and the idea of going virtual for confidential sessions can make people nervous. Tools, such as Shaparency, operate on blockchain, meaning that meetings are secure just as if they were held in person. This technology also allows for fast voting and meeting minutes protected and conducted more efficiently—all the more reason for boards to consider a virtual option.
We all want to go back to “normal,” but some things that COVID brought to the forefront may stick around, and virtual meetings are one of them. So take a look at your board and its makeup and ask yourself if in-person meetings make sense (at least for every session) or if there is an opportunity to make a change that could benefit everyone and make meetings more attended and efficient.