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You may effectively facilitate Board Meetings by relying on Robert’s Rules of Order, however, blend in facilitative leadership skills to improve your decision quality.

In 1876 General Henry M. Robert wrote the rules of American Congress (Parliamentary Procedure) for all citizens and societal groups with his publication of Pocket Manual of Rules of Order. Nearly 150 years later, his grandson, Henry M. Robert III, was living with a FAST alumnus (a priest and rector) in the rectory at St Mary’s parish, Annapolis. They frequently argued at dinner time over the value of “voting” compared to “building consensus.”  There is a time and place for both methods of decision-making. Never forget, however, that voting may not yield a better decision, only a bigger number.

With traditional Board Meetings, Parliamentary Procedure expedites the meeting and provides enough structure to ensure that the entire scope is covered properly. Specifically, embrace the following facilitative tips:

  1. When You Facilitate Board Meetings, Include Ground Rules

Start every Board or Committee Meeting with a solid, well-prepared introduction. Get your meeting off to a solid start. Cover the seven required activities quickly, but thoroughly.  In sequence the Introductory activities ought:

5 Tips on How to Facilitate Board Meetings (or Committees)

How to Facilitate Board Meetings

– Reinforce your role as facilitator and tiebreaker and their roles as equal voices

– Provide one statement that covers the purpose of the meeting

– Stipulate the scope for the meeting

– Codify one statement that distills the meeting deliverable

– Cover any administrative or non-content issues

– Quickly review the Agenda

– Provide Ground Rules to ensure the group gets more done, faster

2. When You Facilitate Board Meetings, Sustain an Upbeat Tempo

Your best meetings will conclude ahead of schedule. Do not over-invest in early topics and shortchange the value of later topics. New Business often follows Department Reports, and arguably remains the most important topic of the meeting. Get to it.

3. When You Facilitate Board Meetings, Do NOT Allow Scope Creep

Do not allow your participants to wander, ramble, and extemporaneously talk too much. Keep them on point. Focus on WHAT has transpired, NOT HOW they are accomplishing stuff.  Most importantly, do not deviate from the agenda by jumping around to the topic of the moment. Cut people off if necessary with the caveat that their content will be covered in a later agenda step.

4. When You Facilitate Board Meetings, Focus on Output NOT Outcome

Satisfying the legality of required meetings should never be the deliverable. Focus on change and what actions transpire as a result of shared learnings, experience, and suggestions.  Carefully record and separately document decisions, actions, and other inflection points. Visualize your deliverable for every step in the agenda. What should we do now? What should we do different? If nothing changes, we probably wasted our time.

5. When You Facilitate Board Meetings, Manage Open Issues and Next Steps

Make yourself comfortable with some method or tool for managing your Parking Lot and making follow-up assignments. If learnings need to be analyzed further, make your output clear so that your written statements remain as clear input when the issue is brought up again in a different forum. Conclude with any reminders that help participants show up better prepared for the next meeting. And remember, strive for consensus, rather than relying on voting as a simple way out. Likely a more sophisticated ‘way out’ will generate higher returns on the investment of your money and their time.



Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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