Face Time

on in Fundraising

People are so busy now-a-days! Traveling for their jobs, stuck behind their desks, running out from work to pick up kids from their piano lessons – it’s hard to get a quorum for the classic 2-hour board meeting.

People arrive late, leave early, bail out at the last minute, or their voices float in and out of a disembodied phone speaker so infrequently you barely know they’re there.

Maybe we need to re-think.

Maybe face time should be viewed as a precious commodity, rather than a right – and parceled out when absolutely needed, as opposed to being the default option. 

 “Do we really need to meet?” is a hot question in certain management circles. Its corollary is: “Do we really need to meet in person?”

There’s a lot to be said for a 1-hour focused call with a tight agenda – discussion, recap, decision, next steps, and repeat.

Less meandering, less nitpicking, less cross-talk, more focus on taking care of the business at hand and moving on.

Most committees can easily move their agendas forward in this matter. And with screen-sharing, and sending documents ahead of time, everyone can be looking at the same plans, set of numbers or dashboard at the same time, just as if they were in the room together.

As an added bonus, scheduling phone calls instead of in-person sessions with board members is much easier – you’re just asking for an hour, not an hour plus two half-hours of transit time. Instead of cramming discussions into before-work slot (8 am board meetings?) or late in the evening (start time 6 pm-till?), you can have the benefit of people’s brains at a time of day when they’re truly alert (10 am, noon, 2…)

This only works, however, if everyone is on the phone. If some are in the room and some are on the phone, those not physically present become even less active – they become second class participants, in essence, and shrink back in recognition of their muted engagement.

Open-ended brainstorming is still better accomplished with people in the room together, as is major decision-making (the kind where people look each other in the eyes and promise to be accountable for the results). But those don’t happen at every run-of-the-mill board meeting.

We’re almost two decades into the 21st century. It’s time to take the boardroom into a virtual room and harness the energy that unleashes.

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