Meetings are necessary, especially for board members and corporate executives. Yet, studies reveal that 73% of meeting participants are passive listeners who mind their business. Worse yet, 3 out of 4 meetings are a waste of time and productivity.

If so, how to conduct a committee meeting with maximum efficiency? This article explores the 10 best practices for running a committee meeting session.

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How to run a committee meeting effectively?

Running a committee meeting effectively is feasible. Focused organizational effort is all it needs. Check the best organizational practices for running an effective committee meeting:

  1. Gather for a purpose
  2. Follow the agenda
  3. Let the attendees prepare
  4. Make everyone play their role
  5. Try Robert’s Rules of Order
  6. Collect feedback
  7. Reduce the number of meetings
  8. Eliminate distractions
  9. Facilitate physical well-being
  10. Use board software

1. Gather for a purpose

Start a committee meeting with a clearly defined and realistic purpose. The following practices will help you establish a meeting purpose and chair a committee efficiently:

  • Understand a common goal. Decide whether you need to make decisions, send updates, plan projects, review reports, or solve problems. Outline the main objectives and make them as specific as possible.
  • Review past meeting minutes. See if you have important unresolved issues and prioritize your agenda accordingly.
Check how to set up a committee structure for your advisory committee and check the best governance practices.

2. Follow the agenda

A well-structured agenda gives many solutions on how to run a board committee meeting. Let’s describe the key elements of an effective and well-structured agenda:

  • Quorum. Set attendance requirements for legally valid meeting decisions.
  • Prioritization. Put routine items higher and shift the heaviest discussion topics to the midsection of the agenda.
  • Agenda items. Subtopics of the meeting are framed as agenda items with assigned presenters and applicable supporting documents.
  • Time slots. Apply time frames to agenda items to keep the course of the meeting on track and ensure adequate discussion time.
  • Open floor. Reserve sufficient time for group discussion.
  • Breaks. Aim at 15-minute breaks every 50 minutes to restore focus and mental stamina.
  • Next steps. Assign tasks to be made for the next meeting and between meetings.


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3. Let the attendees prepare

Adequate preparations make meetings, especially fundraising committee ones, productive. After all, preparedness means everyone has done their pre-meeting tasks and has something to say.

However, preparations require sufficient time, especially for committee members and executives. Picture this: Jeff Bezos requires Amazon executives to read 6-page memos before each meeting. You can apply these practices to help attendees prepare:

  1. Distribute the agenda in advance. Circulate the agenda 7-14 days before the meeting to reserve enough preparation time.
  2. Supervise preparations. Answer follow-up questions once you distribute the agenda. 
  3. Allocate time on your calendar. Reserve personal time for preparations. Consider that 30 minutes of the meeting requires 30 minutes of preparation.

4. Make everyone play their role

Many committees need to improve the boardroom dynamics. Nearly 40% of executives surveyed by PwC have directors who don’t actively participate in board meetings.

Making everyone play their role is one of the best ways to organize a committee meeting and ensure active participation. You can incorporate the following tips:

  • Assign presenters. Define directors responsible for agenda items. As you move through the agenda, every committee member has a chance to speak.
  • Rotate participants. Swap “listener” and “presenter” roles from meeting to meeting for balanced engagement.
  • Organize round-table discussion. Go around the table and let everyone discuss the topic.
Check the best practices and case studies on effectively governing roles in a nomination committee.

5. Try Robert’s Rules of Order

Robert’s Rules of Order offers time-proven, step-by-step guidelines on how to run a steering committee meeting, remuneration committee, and other committees. Here are the key elements of Robert’s Rules of Order:

  • Motions. Members introduce business items in a structured manner. Motions are a key mechanism for active participation and meaningful discussions.
  • Voting. Members approve and vote on decisions. It ensures clarity, transparency, and accountability.
  • Equal opportunity. The parliamentary procedure is designed to give everyone an equal opportunity to express their ideas and introduce decisions.
  • Process chairing. The chairperson coordinates discussions and decides who can speak at the meeting. They keep discussions ordered and in line with the meeting objective.
Pro tip: Use Robert’s Rules of Order cheat sheet on how to preside a committee meeting.

6. Collect feedback

Feedback is widely believed to improve processes. However, not all feedback mechanisms are effective in isolation. You can mix various approaches to receive well-rounded input from all participants:

  • Open-ended questions. Detailed responses help you understand respondents’ perspectives.
  • Anonymous surveys. Anonymity gives necessary confidence for honest feedback.
  • Suggestion boxes. Promote innovation and improvements by gathering ideas and perspectives on the meeting process.

7. Reduce the number of meetings

Studies find that executives spend an average of 23 hours at meetings weekly. The weekly meeting time should be reduced because such fatigue interferes with productive decisions.

✔️ You need a meeting if:

  1. You need a complex discussion.
  2. You need real-time feedback.
  3. Your attempts to resolve the issue via email or collaborative tools were unsuccessful.

❌ You don’t need a meeting if:

  1. The topic is straightforward and doesn’t require discussion or immediate feedback.
  2. The purpose is to inform, update, or notify.
  3. The topic is not urgent.
  4. You can do it via email or personal chat.

8. Eliminate distractions

Distractions derail meetings. Let’s dive deeper into practices to improve focus during meetings:

  • Reduce technology distractions. Personal devices leave many temptations, like social media, personal emails, text messengers, etc. Use a work phone with only work-related applications installed. 
  • Watch for excessive assumptions. Avoid making unverified assumptions excessively. They may lead to unproductive discussions and flawed decisions.
  • Avoid multitasking. Multitasking reduces productivity, ruins focus, and makes participants stressed. Carefully plan your calendar so you don’t have to deal with other work at meetings.
  • Avoid screen time during breaks. Scrolling social media during breaks makes your brain release dopamine intensively. It makes you less motivated to make decisions as you resume the meeting.

9. Facilitate physical well-being

Directors, executives, and other white-collar workers spend up to 85% of their workday sitting. Prolonged sitting is associated with poor executive function and reduced memory performance.

It diminishes all you want to achieve at your audit committee meeting. So try incorporating the following elements for better focus and overall well-being:

  • Don’t sit during breaks. If possible, take a walk outside during a break. It helps your brain’s blood flow and saturates it with much-needed oxygen.
  • Rotate sitting and standing time. Try changing your sitting and standing position every 30-60 minutes for optimal comfort.

10. Use board software

Digital transformations are inevitable, and those who fall behind lose their competitive edge. Today, 60% of directors in the Americas and over 73% in Asia Pacific consider digital solutions for effective corporate governance. 

Competitive organizations use board portals to digitize, simplify, and streamline committee meetings. You get the following benefits when you run a committee meeting in a board portal:

  • Efficient agenda. Build digital agendas using form builders that contain action items, time slots, presenters, quorum requirements, and follow-up tasks. 
  • Clear motion-making. Leverage digital votes and e-signature capabilities for easy motion approval, decision-making, and contract management.
  • Centralized information. Collect, store, and access board notes and materials in one secure file repository with unlimited storage and bulk actions.
  • Remote meeting technology. Connect your board portal to Zoom and Microsoft Teams for full-fledged remote meetings.
  • Simple meeting minutes. Capture digital meeting minutes with time stamps, progress bars, attachments, and action items.
  • Fewer meetings. Follow up, distribute updates, and make routine decisions without time-consuming meetings.
Check our Main Page to compare the features and prices of the best board portals.

Key takeaways

  • Create actionable agendas to promote active participation in effective committee meetings.
  • Robert’s Rules of Order contributes to structured discussions and facilitates input from all members.
  • Reducing the weekly meeting time is among the best ways to improve productivity and focus during committee meetings.
  • Eliminate screen time, walk in fresh air during breaks, and circulate sitting and standing time to improve attention span and energy levels.
  • Use board management software to automate and streamline all aspects of committee meetings.

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Casey Johnson Marketing strategist
Casey Johnson is a seasoned marketing strategist specializing in board portals. With over a decade of experience, she spearheads comprehensive marketing campaigns to enhance brand visibility and drive growth. Casey orchestrates content plans, conducts market research, and collaborates with content creators to ensure impactful marketing strategies.
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