Virtual Meetings: How to Get Your Board Up & Running

Kerie Kerstetter
3 min read
COVID-19 is a new type of crisis. One that implores us to stay safe by staying home.

Now more than ever, board members and executives need dedicated time to discuss strategic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. To close the gap, organizations are shifting to virtual board and committee meetings, and these are happening much more frequently.

Holding an effective virtual meeting is not as easy as it sounds. Formats must be adapted. Agendas must be condensed. New tools and processes must be learned. Where to start?

In Diligent's recent guide, Virtual Meeting Toolkit: A Guide to Technology Best Practices, we share several best practices for hosting virtual meetings. In this blog, we'll focus in on some of the technical steps and considerations to get virtual meetings up and running.

Technology & Security Questions

The challenges boards face right now are largely technical. Your organization's IT team is a great place to start. Here are a few questions to ask:

Q: Does our organization have a video conferencing platform? Most organizations do, so the next step is determining whether it has the features needed to support a board meeting (e.g., screen share, admin controls). Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams are among the most popular platforms for Diligent users.

Q: How can we ensure virtual meetings are secure?
Most video conferencing systems are hosted on the cloud, which means they're not encrypted; yet, a more pressing security risk is failing to protect the link itself'and any sensitive documents prepared for the meeting. Ensure the board uses supporting tools like Diligent Boards to securely deliver board materials and Diligent Messenger to protect any communication between attendees. Diligent also allows for the secure delivery of video conference links through the calendar within Diligent Boards.

Q: How can we train board members? Even if board members are familiar with video conferencing, each platform differs slightly in features and design. Organize a training for board members the week before the meeting. Ensure all attendees are comfortable with the technology and that everyone has the equipment they need. Use this time to go over guidelines or 'ground rules' (e.g., limit background noise, mute when not speaking, find a location with good light).

Tips from Diligent Users

Diligent users around the globe are navigating virtual meetings right now. We've compiled several tips for smoother meetings, shared by board members and governance professionals:

  • Rethink the format entirely. Don't try to fit a traditional board meeting into a virtual format. Timelines should be condensed and flow should be carefully considered.

  • Decide on the process for handling motions, discussions, and voting. Virtual meetings quickly get long and clunky if the board fails to establish a process ahead of time.

  • Security must remain a priority. Boards must ensure meeting materials are only shared via secure platforms. Consult your GC or legal team before recording any sessions.

  • Board leadership is critical. The chair is responsible for navigating the meeting in a way that keeps the board engaged, productive, and focused.

  • Consider surroundings. Attendees should make sure their face is well-lit and their background is solid to minimize distractions.

  • Respect time zones. Boards are often dispersed across the globe. Consider the time zones of attendees when scheduling virtual board and committee meetings.

How Diligent Supports Virtual Board Meeting Needs

In light of the current environment, Diligent is making it even easier to run secure, virtual meetings through our integrated Diligent Boards applications.

Secure Meeting Workflow protects the assembly of board materials by allowing permissioned users to collaborate in a secure workflow environment. Diligent Messenger enables secure communication before, during, and after meetings. Video conferencing integration protects meeting links and enables split screen with your board materials.

Modern governance is crucial in times like these. Virtual meetings should enable empower board processes'not inhibit them. For more information on virtual meetings, download the Virtual Meeting Toolkit: A Guide to Technology Best Practices.
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Kerie Kerstetter
Kerie Kerstetter is the former Senior Director of Content Strategy for Diligent and the Next Gen Board Leaders.