Life's Too Short to Sit Through Bad Board Meetings

NEWS FLASH: Some board meetings are so long and drawn out and ineffective that board members are considering resigning from their positions! This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but I've been hearing this from so many, I thought it was time to address the issue. What are some of the things that go wrong at board meetings? Here are just a few:

  • Board members are not prepared for meetings: The expectation should be that the agenda and materials for the meeting will be sent out in advance, and that members will come prepared to have a discussion and make decisions.
  • Committees are not utilized effectively: The Board should be working in teams or committees where the "real" work gets done and is then reported on at board meetings. Otherwise, the entire Board gets caught up in all of the organization's business, which is ineffective and tedious.
  • Avoiding the real issues: Boards often focus on the trivial (fonts for an invitation to an event?) because they don't know how to start the discussion about the really important issues (what to do about a major donor who has slowed their giving?)
  • No decisions are made:  Do agenda items get talked to death, but with no clear results? Perhaps the board chair needs help from other members in leading the conversation so that the issues are discussed, then decided upon.
  • Board members are not held accountable for their commitment:  In addition to committee participation, board members should be encouraged to take on individual responsibilities, and to report on their progress at each meeting. If they are not honoring their commitments, the Board chair should take the time to find out why.


The success of board meetings is in no small part dependent on the ability for the Board chair to be a good leader and run an efficient and effective meeting. If you need some coaching tips on how to maximize your board meeting potential, please be in touch with me at I look forward to working with you!