Is your board of directors a dream team? Do you love heading into board meetings because you’re excited about what is going to be accomplished? Or are you frustrated that the meeting will fail to deliver the high-level and strategic decisions that your association needs?
Your board of directors sets the stage and leads the charge for your association’s success. A great board means an awesome and sustainable association.
Often the CEO faces an uphill battle to move forward because of friction and inefficiency at the board level. So what’s the path to take your board from the ordinary to the extraordinary? Here are 6 tips.
- Effective board training.
- Top drawer director recruitment.
- Effective strategic planning, monitoring and accountability.
- Effective, well-facilitated, high-level board agendas.
- CEO confidence and conviction.
- Managing “difficult” board members
Effective board training
- Every new board member needs live training as soon as they join.
- Current board members need regular updating of their role.
- This could be an annual training event or a quick hit at each board meeting.
Top drawer director recruitment
- The best prospects are attracted to a strong, effective board. If you deliver that, they will come.
- Start your recruitment at the committee/task force level and monitor their engagement. This is your director pipeline.
Effective strategic planning, monitoring and accountability
- The board must be engaged in setting strategic planning and accountability for each element.
- The plan must be reviewed annually for its progress.
Effective, well-facilitated, high-level board agendas
- Design the agenda to focus on strategy, not operations.
- Train the President/Chair to stick to the agenda and keep on track.
CEO confidence and conviction
- You need to have the conviction to risk your job.
- If the board is in danger of making a bad decision, you need to call out and stand tall.
Managing “difficult” board members
- This will always be your challenge. Work it.
Want some help in building your board dream team?
Are you a competent, confident and effective speaker? Do you deliver your message in a way that resonates, convinces and inspires confidence in your association?
Public speaking is a fact of life for association leaders. Leaders must address member meetings, stakeholder groups, regulators and other decision-makers. Your speaking abilities have an impact on the credibility and perceived professionalism of your association.
You may be a seasoned speaker or a newbie. Either way, you can improve your effectiveness by focusing on these 5 tips.
How to prepare
- What does your audience want/expect? Ensure that you are delivering the information your audience is expecting. What are your key messages?
- Speak what you know. Ensure you know your subject matter cold.
- Slide deck/script first. Draft your presentation. If slides are to be used, create a high-level slide deck. If not, create a script.
- Practise. Find a quiet place and practice your delivery.
- Revise, repeat. You don’t speak the way you write. Revise your slide deck/script based on your practice runs.
What to wear
This is not fashion advice, but your attire affects your effectiveness.
- Shoes, socks, hemline. Be aware of where you will be standing relative to your audience. If you’re on an elevated platform, their sight line may be focused on the lower part of your body. Ensure your shoes, hose and trouser or skirt hemline are impeccable.
- Room to move. Ensure your clothing doesn’t ride up, cling or gape as you move. Ensure you can move comfortably as you gesture and walk on your “stage”. Practice in your chosen attire.
- 1-2 steps above. Ensure your attire plays to your audience. You should be dressed in a consistent manner but 1-2 steps above your audience to support your credibility as an expert. E.g. if your audience is wearing business casual, add a jacket to your ensemble.
What’s in your slide deck?
If you’re using a slide deck, it’s not a script, it’s a visual supplement to your delivery.
- Cues only. By all means, give yourself cues to remind you of your messaging; but never use the slide deck as a script of your delivery. You’re a speaker not a slide deck reader.
- Stories/examples. Make it real. Include real life stories to support your messages.
- Images. Ensure that every slide has an image that supports the slide message.
How to mic up
- Fixed or lapel? If you present best as you move around your stage or the room space, ensure that you have a lapel mic. This means you need a lapel that is firm enough to support a small mic, and a skirt or trousers with a structured waistband that can secure the support pack, and a jacket or longer top that will cover it.
- Podium or table? A podium creates a barrier between you and your audience. If you need to be able to refer to your notes, ask for a table.
- Sound check. Arrange with the AV provider to arrive at least 15 minutes before your presentation, and check your sound. By the way, even if you have as strong voice, a mic is your best bet. Your voice could be competing with a concurrent presentation next door.
Engaging your audience
- Who are you? Why are you here? Start your talk by engaging the people who are here for your expertise. Ask them what they want to learn from your talk and be prepared to answer their expectations in your delivery.
- Sharing/discussion points. Ensure that your presentation gives your audience opportunities to express their personal experience.
- Move in. You’ll need a lapel mic for this. Move throughout the room to connect with your audience.
- Toastmasters. This is an excellent and inexpensive club to learn and practice your speaking skills. Investigate the clubs in your neighbourhood.
- Have Fun and be yourself!
A lot of smart people hate numbers. They have a vision, they know what they need to do, but for them, preparing the annual budget is a tedious formality and a low value exercise.
The annual budget exercise is the life blood of association sustainability. A good budget is creative, intelligent and practical. It’s the numerical picture of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. It shows how we’re going to use the money we bring in the door to serve our members. If we create an excellent budget and follow it, line by line, will be both sustainable and successful.
Here are some common, but bad practices, and some best practices:
Common bad practices
Revenue projections: Revenue projections are a “plug” figure
- The revenue projections are not thoughtfully prepared. A revenue number is simply inserted to match our planned expenditures. When revenue projections are not met, they’re discounted as “out of our control”!
- Performance expectations: As long as we meet the bottom line target at the end of the year we’ve done our job. Individual line items are not respected.
- The CFO or Treasurer prepares the budget based on last year’s numbers. The management team is not engaged in the process.
- Revenue Diversification: If member dues/fees revenue is greater than 50% of the total, we’re vulnerable. Member dues should be important enough to keep us focused on why we exist but not so high that we’re forced to reduce member services during a decline – just when our members need us most. Revenue diversification should be an important objective.
- Thoughtful Planning: Every line item in the budget should match our strategic objectives for that area. What do we need to invest in? How can we increase efficiency to reduce costs? Where do we need to focus our revenue sources?
- Meaningful tracking: Track budget/actual monthly to keep on top of activity. Saving money on one item is not an excuse to over spend on another expense item. Revenue windfalls are not an excuse to fall short of other revenue projections.
- Team engagement: The whole management team should be engaged in the budget process and line managers should have accountability for their sector of the budget.
If you’ve never done a really thoughtful, meaningful, budget, the first time will be time consuming and may be a little painful – particularly if you’re one of those smart people who hates numbers. But it will get easier each year – and you’ll see the results. If you would like help and support to get there ask us about our Leadership Support Program.