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Online board meetings can be an ideal option for nonprofit boards who are unable or not willing to meet in person due to geographical constraints, travel expenses or busy schedules. However they can be difficult to conduct in a manner that is productive and ensures that everyone feels engaged and included. Utilizing a few basic best practices can make these virtual meetings more efficient and productive.

Before the conference call, be sure to communicate clearly all meeting materials to board members to allow them to read them and submit their questions. This will allow the meeting to be more focused, run faster and yield better insights. Mentimeter is an effective presentation tool that allows you to collect important insights from your participants via dynamic images. The material will appear in the minutes of the meeting, providing a permanent document that can be referred to several years later.

Encourage attendees to use the camera feature of their devices, so they can be able to see each other, which helps keep everyone engaged. Also, establish ground rules that let everyone take part equally, such as the chair asking for a hand raise to detect when someone is speaking, or asking for people to turn off their microphones when they are not speaking. It’s also a good thing to limit meetings to 90-minutes and avoid scheduling them around meal times to ensure that participants don’t eat on camera.

Establish specific discussion topics with time-limits for each item, which will give directors the sense of urgency to tackle items on the agenda and increase productivity. Additionally that you are focusing on particular topic areas will eliminate distractions that might otherwise occur during in-person meetings like chatting with other directors or checking emails.

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