You might be wondering how to hold a teleconference board meeting and whether it’s even appropriate to do so.
Can board meetings be held through teleconferencing?
In short, yes, but each business has specific needs and appropriate means of communication.
Participants need to feel comfortable and be on board (excuse the pun!) with the idea of holding meetings remotely. This might require some board members to adapt, but embracing virtual board meetings can add real value and improve productivity. Here’s how to do it right…
For decades, board meetings have been a face-to-face affair. The traditional meeting experience is built upon long-held social norms and etiquette. Whilst many organisations are embracing remote working policies and co-working offices (some even provide free beer on tap!), others are slower to adapt to new working cultures and technologies.
As the organiser, make a judgement about the best conferencing platform to use based on how ‘tech-savvy’ your board members are. Sometimes a simple telephone conference is more appropriate than a full-blown video meeting and screen sharing session. Holding a board meeting through teleconferencing certainly doesn’t need to be complicated if simplicity is a priority for your business.
How to set up a board meeting teleconference
A dial-in conference is the easiest and quickest solution…
- Obtain free telephone dial-in details from a reputable provider;
- Share the details with meeting participants;
- Dial-in from any landline or mobile at the agreed time.
Upping the ante with web conferencing
Some board meetings will require more sophisticated communication tools in order to replicate the interactions board members would usually have in a face-to-face meeting.
If your meeting requires that everyone can see each other via video camera, or you need the ability to present visual content, collaborate, cast votes and more, these can all be supported via ‘web conferencing’ or ‘online meeting’ type software.
Choose the appropriate conferencing solution for your board members, their technical know-how, and the goals of the meeting.
The level of detail and structure required for the agenda will depend on the organisation and its size. It is important to let the current goals of the organisation drive the agenda for the board meeting. The agenda for a board meeting held via teleconference should be very similar to the agenda for a face-to-face meeting. There’s no reason each participant cannot present documents and slideshows as they would in a normal meeting by using modern document sharing and online presentation software.
Remember, high level priorities and key projects/strategies should dictate which topics are discussed and which board members contribute the most.
For those putting together an agenda for the first time it can be useful to refer to a template, which can help you ensure all the bases are covered.Download Board Meeting agenda template
Meeting minutes act as a record of what has been discussed and agreed. They are especially important for board meetings due to the number of major decisions often made. In practice, it is best to allocate one meeting participant who is not a board member to take responsibility for the minutes.
Most teleconference platforms will allow you to very easily switch on recording for your meeting, which can be particularly helpful as a reference after the meeting, or even as a basis for writing up the meeting minutes after the meeting has taken place.
Board meetings should prioritise discussion, brainstorming and active collaboration over lengthy reporting by individual members, which means it’s more important to understand and follow conference call etiquette. This isn’t a secret code shrowded in mystery. It simply means being tactful and aware of the differences between teleconference board meetings and real-life interactions.
During a teleconference it can be easier to accidentally interrupt others. It’s also more important to call for input and questions at regular intervals or before moving onto new topics in case anyone has any questions that need to be asked/explored. Make sure everyone is familiar with the muting function of your teleconference platform and how to use it.
We’ve produced a comprehensive guide to conference call etiquette to help you brush up your teleconferencing skills.
Motions and voting
Traditionally, decisions are made during board meetings by casting votes (also know as motions). Votes are often cast by voice (with members indicating ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in turn) or by raising a hand or standing. Motions can be called during virtual board meetings too: Each member can be called to announce their vote through their own audio connection, or by using a built-in voting electronic voting feature if this is available (essential for larger meetings).
Teleconferencing often means more document sharing before or during your meeting. Nowadays it’s good practice to avoid sharing your meeting documents as attachments to emails before the meeting takes place, especially if they contain sensitive business information or personal data. Despite its widespread use, email isn’t a very secure way of transferring sensitive information including important board meeting documents. Use a secure file sharing service such as Tresorit, WeTransfer. If this isn’t an option you can encrypt the files you send via email, but this tends to be less user-friendly.
During a teleconference board meeting there are a number of options for sharing and presenting documents:
- Use the document presentation/screen sharing functionality of your teleconference platform;
- Ask board members to have the relevant documents in front of them and talk through them during the meeting;
- Use a separate document sharing/presentation software (Use caution – introducing too many communication platforms/software tools can lead to frustration/friction and reduced productivity).