The PLSA CEO Network meets three times a year to discuss issues of most concern to CEOs of our largest fund members, says Cheryl Wilkinson. During our last CEO call, participants discussed strategies for managing online trustee meetings. Here are their top tips:
Only meet when you need to
- While it may be easier to convene (remote) meetings at the moment, try to maintain discipline about what is needed. Trustees needing reassurance is not a reason for a meeting, and ideally shouldn’t drive too much additional work.
- Instead of a meeting, a regular brief email covering some updates (such as funding level, admin service update, upcoming projects) could be more effective in keeping Trustees informed and highlighting risks early. Clear objectives and project plans make this much easier to do.
- Test the tech before meetings to avoid frustration and spot possible issues early.
- Suggest practice sessions to help those less used to the format with muting, positioning and setting their speakers at the right volume.
- Have a nominated deputy to take over if the Chair has technical issues.
Establish the ground rules
- Circulate your meeting protocol to attendees in advance, covering etiquette such as:
- using ‘raise hand’ (Teams) to prevent people talking over each other
- keeping microphones on mute most of the time
- keeping contributions succinct
- committing to being “in the room” – not doing emails or other work.
Keep it short…
- Stick to a maximum of 3 hours, with a good break in the middle. If necessary, hold two meetings on successive days.
- Challenge yourself on what is included on the agenda: keep items for noting in an appendix or at the end of the agenda, leaving more time for the papers requiring a decision.
- Ensure there is either a cover note pulling out the key discussion/decision points or an effective executive summary for each paper (this helps to balance the discussion between the Executive team, advisors and trustees).
- Enforce the approach of taking papers as read, with a short introduction from presenters and no regurgitation of papers and slides.
- For any complex or training issues try pre-recording presentations, with time at the end for questions. This has advantage of allowing them to be watched at a later date and form bite-size training for future reference.