As the world becomes more aware about the benefits of collaboration via virtual channels the number of board meetings that are held online continues to increase. This trend offers an effective way to connect members and eliminates geographic constraints that would otherwise require members to travel for meetings. There are a few obstacles to overcome when transitioning to this new model. Boards can increase participation in remote board meetings by planning ahead and employing smart facilitation.

In addition to deciding the meeting’s agenda It is crucial to ensure that everyone has access to the equipment they require for the call. It’s ideal to provide an access link for testing and login details well ahead of time, and ask participants to turn off their microphones if they aren’t speaking, which will assist in reducing background noise and allow them to better hear the person who is on the floor. It is also a good idea to establish a formal conversation procedure (i.e. a hand-raise procedure for requesting the attention of the group) and also to limit multitasking, which can create confusion during the meeting.

One of the most challenging aspects of virtual board meetings is creating the feeling of security that is normally present in face-to-face meetings. Icebreakers can be a way to encourage connection. Ferrazzi Greenlight for instance has designed a variety of exercises that can be performed during a video conference, for instance, the “sweet and sour” check-in session where participants discuss something for which they are thankful and one aspect with which they struggle personally or professionally. This facilitates a more open and vulnerable discussion that could help to foster relationships between board members.