Virtual board meetings were uncharted territory for many organizations before the pandemic. However, changing times show that remote meetings can be here to stay.
Virtual board meeting software and proven practices can help you streamline your board’s operations and improve remote and multinational board governance. Here’s what you need to know to reap the benefits.
What is a virtual board meeting?
A virtual board meeting is a remote meeting of an organization’s board of directors via a secure cloud platform.
Virtual board meetings are helpful if you’re a multinational organization or a company with members spread across the country. Your board can adopt a fully remote governance model and collaborate entirely online using chat and conferencing tools or go hybrid with both in-person and remote attendance. Additionally, board meeting software allows you to share high volumes of confidential data securely.у
The advantages of virtual board meetings
Virtual meetings can bring a host of benefits to company governance.
- Higher attendance. Meeting the board quorum can be challenging for international organizations and nonprofit board directors with full-time jobs. Remote meetings allow your members to join with only an internet connection, which can increase the number of active participants.
This also makes virtual board meetings an excellent solution if you have a large board. With a scalable board communication platform, you can invite a significant number of members simultaneously.
- Board diversity.
With secure, remote meetings, you can eliminate geographical barriers and expand your board with fresh insights and new perspectives. What’s more, board software can help people with disabilities participate more actively in meetings.
- Better engagement. Virtual board meetings are appealing because of their convenience. Members worldwide can attend emergency meetings from the comfort of their homes instead of booking last-minute flights. Additionally, with the right platform, participants can access important documents and prepare from anywhere (even if they’re offline).
- Time and cost savings. Virtual meetings eliminate travel expenses and minimize time commitments for attendees, while your company saves money on transport, hotels, meals, etc. Virtual board meeting software can also automatically create meeting minutes, which significantly reduces paperwork and routine tasks.
- More efficient governance. Many organizations rely on regular meetings and time-sensitive decisions for effective governance. Virtual board meetings can help you keep the discussion focused and arrive at decisions faster with:
- Easy-to-use audio- and video-conferencing software
- Scheduling tools
- Ways to gather feedback
- A secure document management platform
- The challenges of virtual board meetings
While the advantages of hybrid or remote governance are attractive, virtual board meetings do come with a few challenges.
- Connection quality
Internet connection quality can have a substantial impact on virtual meetings. For example, slower internet speeds can result in poor video quality or lag, and bandwidth limitations may force members to turn off video completely. To combat this, most board meeting software comes with quality settings to ensure every participant has a comfortable experience.
- A learning curve
Virtual meetings aren’t new, but some people can lack the technical skills to use them. The solution is to choose a user-friendly board meeting platform and find someone who can teach your members about its features before the meeting starts.
- Security risks
Virtual board meetings can create security vulnerabilities without a strict confidentiality policy and data security measures. Fortunately, a reliable board communication platform is a much safer alternative to regular video-conferencing tools, email, and public cloud services.
- Local laws and regulations
Laws and company regulations may prohibit you from participating in remote meetings. You should check internal company policies and local laws before starting a virtual board meeting.
- Efficiency depends on management
Any meeting can be slow and unproductive if it doesn’t have a clear agenda or procedures. But keeping members engaged is more challenging when you can’t interact with them directly. The effectiveness of a virtual meeting depends on how you organize the participants and invite contributions using the platform’s tools.
How to run effective virtual board meetings
Here are some easy ways to make sure your virtual board meeting runs as smoothly and effectively as possible.
- Prepare the virtual room
- Test your software and troubleshoot potential issues ahead of time. The preparations may include:
- Testing your equipment and internet connection
- Preparing guides for each member and walking them through the setup
- Adjusting the audio and video settings
- Distributing noise-canceling software to improve audio quality
- Build a meeting agenda
Create a clear agenda before the meeting. As you develop a consent agenda, don’t forget to:
- Put higher-priority items near the top
- Set goals and a specific timeframe (preferably no longer than 20 minutes) for each topic to prevent discussions from dragging on
- Send copies of the plan to each member in advance to give them time to prepare
- Divide discussion of complex issues over multiple meetings to allow members to reflect and gather additional information
- Engage participants
Stimulating board members to participate in the meeting will make it more effective, here’s how to do so:
- Appoint a manager (usually a board chair) and a secretary to help the meeting run smoothly
- Ask board members to speak up at the beginning of the meeting
- Seek their opinion about important topics at the end of discussion sections or after breaks
- Encourage participants to interact face-to-face with videoconferencing tools, but bear in mind that some members may prefer to use their camera only when they’re ready to speak
- Gather feedback after the meeting. Allow all participants to provide feedback. You can plan a feedback session after the virtual board meeting or use surveys and polls to gather information more efficiently.
- Use the right virtual board platform. Most conferencing software allows you to host and record meetings easily, but this is rarely enough. Instead, consider investing in a secure and easy-to-use board communication platform with advanced features for effective governance.
Valuable features of virtual board meeting software
This post touched upon some of the best ways to run a successful remote meeting — but effective virtual collaboration doesn’t stop here. You can enhance the quality of your governance with feature-rich board communications software with built-in audio- and video conferencing tools.
The right software will offer essential features for smooth and efficient collaboration of the board, including:
Agenda builder. Save time with a dynamic agenda builder, customizable templates, and automated minute-making tools.
Video integration. Integrate with your favorite video conferencing tools and always stay in touch with the team.
Documents center. Store, manage, share, and approve documents from a centralized platform.
Task manager. Schedule appointments and manage tasks with easy-to-use tools and intuitive dashboards that show upcoming meetings and objectives.