Phone It In – Board Meetings by Phone

Phone It In – Board Meetings by Phone

Association board members who efficiently review and vote on issues of importance do a great service to the organizations they serve. They create a forward momentum that propels activities forward rather than allowing the organization to grind to a halt, unable to evolve.

Yet one of the chief impediments to progress is the inability to gather a quorum so that votes may be taken. Despite the best efforts of organizational leadership (The Board) and staff to schedule meetings and confirm attendance, there is an inevitable and unavoidable “drop off” rate when it comes to association board members.

New-and-improved conference calls provide a 21st Century solution to an ages-old problem.

Remote Attendance for Association Boards
As with an in-person meeting, your entire board is notified in advance as to the date and time of the conference call. They must also be given instructions as to how to join the conference.

The specifics of setting up the call will be tailored to each organization and its technology capabilities, so this post does not go into the “hard wiring” of a conference call. Instead, it provides steps to help ensure that all voices are heard and all issues addressed regardless of the delivery method (teleconference, conference call, etc.):

•Put Agenda & Notes In a Single Document If Possible – You will reduce the chance of board members accidentally disconnecting from the meeting if you simply the documents they refer to during the meeting. If possible, put the agenda and all meeting-related documents into a single PDF document so board members can easily scroll to the appropriate material.

The exception to this may be the organization’s finance report. The complexity is likely to require that it be its own document.

•Identify the Lead Speaker for Each Agenda Item & the Anticipated Result –
For example:

•Treasurer’s Report – Treasurer Meyers will present the 2014-2015 budget and a recommendation from Finance Committee that we seek a line of credit increase to $750,000. A vote will be taken and approval is anticipated.

•Make It Easy to Know Who’s Speaking – The meeting chair and anyone identified as a “lead speaker” should be proactive in using names so that it is clear to know who is speaking at any given moment. “Thank you for your comment, Robert Grimes.”

•Remember the Power of Postponement – Should a discussion become too complex or nuanced, the chair or lead speaker should make a motion to postpone the discussion until a next in-person meeting.

Association Boards Should Meet Face to Face Whenever Possible
Networking with peers and establishing personal and professional ties are a tremendous reward of association membership. In-person meetings make that happen. It’s not always what happens at the meeting that counts; it’s what happens before, after, and during breaks.