Are your meetings a mash-up of discussions, question and answers, recommendations, inquiries, individual opinions, speeches for the audience? Are there frequent calls to stop talking something to death? Do some board members dominate the meeting? Or alternatively do individuals shy away from expressing themselves? Do your meetings feel like you are going through the motions?
Meeting management is often recommended as the response to many of these situations. And meeting management is important, especially as it relates to preparation, structure, roles, and procedures that help meetings run smoothly.
Meeting vitality, is another thing all together. Meeting vitality asks, "is this meeting giving strength and energy (life!) to all its participants?" Each organization has the ability to develop meetings with vitality. Broadly speaking, vital meetings allow for both thinking and doing. Inquiry and deciding. Taking care of business and expressing opinions and emotions. The 2-part formula for meeting vitality is allowing space and time for both productivity and vulnerability.
Productivity doesn't appear to be too difficult for most boards--it is often a point of pride of "how much we got done." However those same boards are often surprised that their activity is not always appreciated. What happened? What was likely missing was the life force brought to groups by allowing for vulnerability.
Thinking, inquiry, and self-expression can leave us vulnerable. And making time for this vulnerability is just what may make our meetings more vital. I suggest this is the purpose of the workshop meeting. This doesn't take away from the action, decision-making and the taking care of business. This is the purpose of the business meeting.
Are you separating your meeting into workshops and business meetings? Do those meetings hold true to the purpose described here? The proof of this will be in the vulnerability--did you experience a space and time to be vulnerable? It won't be in the the efficiency of getting things done. Both parts are needed for meeting vitality. Its measurement, though, is in vulnerability allowed by the workshop.
Unfortunately there is not one simple formula for creating space and time for vulnerability. Each board must come to their approach on their own. As a coach, I can help. Please contact me for further assistance.
Susan Hockenberry's blog of suggestions for info and updates.