Virtual board meeting definition
A virtual board meeting convenes using a software solution that allows directors to organize and attend remote board meetings. Unlike other video conferencing apps, these platforms are specifically created and designed for business settings, and to carry out every important conversation about the future of the organization.
Board members all around the world are already benefitting from the solutions that this type of software provides. It is filled with tools that help with the governance of the meetings, alongside ways to steer the discussions and prepare for the upcoming challenges.
Board meeting software is an advanced application offering numerous capabilities for in-app video and textual communication, document storage, and basic project management. With the use of new technology, this solution allows for greater control and productivity in the happenings contained in the digital space.
Here’s what you can do in the board meeting virtual workspace at different stages to make the lives of attendees easier, and the board management more optimized.
|Before the meeting
|During the meeting
|After the meeting
|1. View board packs for the meeting
|1. Communicate in real-time
|1. Review the meeting’s summary
|2. Add annotations on any device
|2. Use all the data you need
|2. Follow up on assignments
|3. Schedule meetings
|3. Make decisions via voting features
|3. Review the needed documents
|4. Sign and approve documents online
|4. Allocate the tasks
Let’s take a closer look at each stage of the meeting and each of its steps now
Before the meeting
Effective board meetings begin way before all of the members of the board group gather. The preparation of such a gathering can be troublesome, but with the aid of a board portal solution, this is made much easier. Here are a couple of characteristics that virtual board meetings have when prepared in board software.
1. View board packs for board meetings
Boards can examine content at any time from anywhere to get ready for their meeting. This not only removes any confusion when it comes to the topics touched upon during the meeting but also equips each board member with additional data like the meeting agenda that might spark discussions about important topics surrounding the company.
The information included in those board packs aids the conversation that will be taking place during the gathering of the group and the whole leadership — meaning all the board members can be notified via email.
2. Add annotations on any device
Users may add notes or other things to the content, they can voice their concerns — even offline — and any changes will synchronize when the internet becomes available. Notifications connected to the material touched upon during meetings will be sent to people with appropriate permission settings, to keep them updated about the changes in any of the documentation. Productivity in the organization increases when everyone knows exactly what is happening.
3. Schedule meetings
Scheduling of the meeting is much easier with the use of a built-in calendar functionality, that allows for the board members to pick time slots for the virtual board meetings. Unlike a physical meeting, this one isn’t burdened by travel. This is effective in avoiding possible scenarios, or challenges where attendees are double booked for a meeting, either in the digital realm or for an in-person meeting.
4. Sign and approve documents online
In addition to the e-signature feature, providers offer an additional level of security — identity authentication before signing. Technology already enables us to use paperless solutions while managing contracts and adhering to global rules of conduct. Board software encourages companies to reduce the amount of paperwork they are producing, and through digital document signatures, they are doing just that.
The inclusion of this functionality in board portal solutions is just another step in the developing industry of business communication. Virtual board meeting agendas and all of the important presentations that the meeting will touch upon need a sign-off, and, if done digitally, removes the need for the director to show up in person in any particular location.
During the meeting
The help of a board portal platform during virtual board meetings can manifest in a variety of ways. Here is a handful of them that will surely surprise even the board chair.
1. Communicate in real-time
Built-in video conferencing, presentation tools, conversation in form of chats, and note sharing facilitate remote meetings while adhering to the rules of corporate engagement. Even though the virtual board meetings are taking place in the digital realm, they are easy to join.
And thanks to the aforementioned tools like communication through video conferencing, you can experience collaboration, discussions, and effective presentations just as you and other, various boards would in an in-person meeting.
2. Use all the data you need
In the course of negotiations, directors may need access to various bits of data. Consequently, the software provides them easy access with only a few clicks with search or page thumbnails. All of the documentation is stored in the board portal, which makes it accessible to the people with appropriate permission settings.
Data held there is not only secure but also accessible when it needs to be. You can share it freely, without having to think twice about the safety problems you might encounter before, during, or after board meetings
3. Make decisions via the voting feature
During negotiations, attendees can vote on a solution immediately. Anonymous voting, checking attendance, and interactive presentations can all be a part of the decision-making process of board members.
This way, everybody is engaged in things like the ongoing procedures of the meeting or current strategies, allowing for greater board management through consequent leadership, and can focus on the key points thanks to the software solution. They get to share the stage in making important decisions for the company.
After the meeting
The software solution also supports post-meeting activities. Board portals ensure additional help even after the virtual meetings are done, and help prepare all of the necessary data before the next meetings come around. They deal with any challenges you might encounter following a meeting.
1. Review a meeting’s summary
Besides studying meeting summaries, board members can add recommendations and annotations to them. This ensures that information is not forgotten after the meeting is done. Therefore, each board member can later come back and give additional comments on the points that were touched upon, raise any concerns about the current plan, and provide an outlook on the future of the company.
2. Follow up on assignments
Boards can see their assigned action items and deadlines. They can also update the status as they complete tasks. Feedback is necessary for proper collaboration to take place. Enriching this data with additional information will make it easier to later recall, and find people responsible for the execution of given tasks. While everything can be done in the interface itself, an email notification can also be sent out for other board members to add to the already created task list.
3. Review any documents, if necessary
Users can find data in seconds with the built-in search engine with only a few key search words. Recalling information is made much easier thanks to the built-in search functionality, and this also leads to a more optimized workflow.
What problems can virtual board meetings solve?
The online board meeting has become a necessary measure due to the pandemic. However, not all organizations may decide to return to in-person meetings afterward. Perhaps this is because the software helped to solve some of the following painful problems:
Cooperation with restrictions
The program freed directors from the boundaries of time and place. Now they can fully collaborate anytime and from anywhere with only an internet connection.
This not only cuts costs of board meetings, but also gives some additional time that can be spent for the organization of the gathering, or to get acknowledged with the board pack for the meeting.
Data security challenges for board members
When paper documents are readily available to third parties, the slightest mistake when sharing and storing them may result in a data leak. Virtual board meeting software applies 256-bit encryption, user permissions, and authenticated e-signatures to get full control over digital documents.
Providers also guarantee compliance with security policies. The documents stored this way will be only available to people with clearances that allow them access to those sensitive files from any supported device.
Poor and incomplete agenda
Poor agenda structure gives rise to inadequately prepared participants of virtual board meetings, deviations from the course, and other problems. The software makes agenda creation simple and eliminates human error. Ready-made templates help sketch out a good plan and minimize the time spent preparing it.
The agendas created by the host of the meeting are available for viewing and editing by the attendees. This encourages the board members to improve on the documentation as a team effort, and provide additional feedback that leads to a better understanding of the current action plan, and ongoing strategies.
Lack of transparency
Teams can develop interpersonal difficulties due to this problem that can surface during virtual board meetings. Namely, some directors do not always take each other’s word for it, while others flat out lie. Keeping track of board activities using virtual boardroom software is easier.
That is because administrators can view reports regarding the number of views, file sharing, downloads, and changes made. Besides, participants are less likely to abuse data when they know they are being monitored. This helps with providing the appropriate governance for the host of the meeting.
Tedious preparation for a meeting
Usually, the process involves studying a lot of materials before meetings. Participants had to lug heavy binders with them and set aside time to explore the information. Now, board members do not need heaps of paperwork because a virtual board solution provides easy access to data around the clock. Moreover, colleagues can chat questions and answers back and forth in real time.
Doing so eliminates the time normally spent discussing these matters at the start of a meeting. And if something escapes their attention, they can always look into the board portal and get all of the necessary information there before the meeting begins.
Lack of flexibility
Virtual meetings for the board of directors do not always take place as scheduled. Appointments may be inconvenient for other participants due to their busy schedules. Since it takes less time and effort to hold a board meeting online rather than an in-person conference, it provides board members more flexibility.
Being able to connect from a variety of devices also broadens the possibilities of the meeting taking place, as some board members might be in transit, and attend the meeting, for example, from the comfort of a lounge at an airport.
Tips for conducting a virtual board meeting
Besides the functionality and benefits of the software, potential users need to know how to hold a board meeting. Here are the steps you need to follow, to make sure that the meeting goes according to plan.
First, virtual board meeting companies act legally only if their state laws and internal bylaws allow the online format and do not contradict the virtual meeting policy template. Therefore, directors must ensure that it’s not illegal to hold remote board meetings. If local laws permit holding a virtual meeting, proceed according to the following plan:
- Set the most appropriate meeting time. This point requires special attention if the participants are from different time zones. If it is impossible to organize one meeting while accommodating all members, you may have to break it up into two sessions. Some board portal solutions include an interactive calendar where everyone can place their availability, so it is easier to schedule global meetings
- Develop a strong agenda. Create a clear agenda and make sure this and other board meeting preparation information is available across all devices. If you want to engage participants, apply virtual board meetings’ best practices for agenda development
- Involve all team members to bring up current team topics. Thus, the document will be complete and informative. They will also be easier to recall later on, as everyone will be involved in their creation
- Stay on schedule. Stick to a timeline to ensure that the meeting is organized and in line with the plan. Planning the meeting in time blocks might be the most efficient way of concluding such a gathering
- Make sure each member has an agenda well in advance. It guarantees better preparation for the meeting and sets the participants on the same wavelength, and they feel comfortable enough to speak about their experiences pertaining to the problems on hand. This way, the flow of ideas and willingness to share differing perspectives will be encouraged
- Use video conferencing for an interactive meeting. Check your hardware and Wi-Fi connection beforehand. Also, remember to adhere to board meeting etiquette: turn off your microphone when not speaking, close irrelevant tabs, stage the background, and wear proper attire. While talking, be precise, and use the documentation present in the board portal, for a better understanding of the discussed topic.
- Create accurate meeting minutes. The official record should contain the meeting’s agenda overview and key details. The virtual meeting minutes template simplifies the task of creating a document, including all the significant components. It is no longer a burden placed on the host to create such a document, and thanks to the automatization of the board portal software, it is a much more streamlined process. Soon after the virtual board meetings take place, all attendees should receive their virtual meeting minutes sample.
Here are 5 ways to conduct your virtual board meetings like a pro:
- Perform technical runs to avoid any disruption during the meeting. What would be the point of meeting, if no one would be able to understand what someone else is saying?
- Make sure everyone is knowledgeable about the topic before the meeting. Use the boardroom software to prepare board packs and share them. This way the board members will be aware of the broad spectrum of subjects that will be covered during the meeting.
- Focus on priorities. Choose to discuss two or three topics so that the meeting stays focused and interesting. The fewer subjects there will be to go through, the more organized and efficient the board meeting will be. We need to remember not to get overwhelmed by technological advancements, and use them as a tool to focus, and not as another distraction.
- Take breaks. Include rest time right on your agenda if you are planning a long meeting. Not everyone has enough attention to be completely focused for 3h in a row. Dividing it into thirty-minute segments can help.
- Let each of the participants express themselves. It is good to use polling tools for this. This way, teams can take into account everyone’s opinion on a particular issue. The board members also feel that their vote is important in that matter.
Out of all of the key participants in virtual board meetings, these tips most benefit the speakers who discuss issues and the secretary responsible for keeping records. The meeting would be impossible to conclude without the host, but the board members are the ones that decide on the future of the company, and with the use of the aforementioned points, they should be able to organize an actionable plan.
Benefits of virtual meetings
Some users consider convenience to be one of the main benefits of remote board meetings, but there are other equally important advantages.
- Board pack management has never been easier. As you know, the size of the board pack depends on the meeting’s agenda. That is, it may be several pages long or may be inserted into a cumbersome binder. Online meeting software benefits every user with digital board packs. They are available on any device, and therefore always with you. Consequently, meeting prep time is significantly reduced, and resources are saved, making the whole process both paperless and much safer than a in-person one.
- Data protection is no longer a headache for boards. By integrating security features into portals for virtual board meetings, providers reduce the chance that their customers’ data will be hacked. Firstly, teams do not need to print documents. Therefore, online data is more secure if it’s only viewable by a limited number of people. Second, strict security measures help to prevent illegal actions — even by directors. Indeed, in the event of misconduct, activity tracking and reporting options make it easier to identify the offender. Finally, the security benefits of virtual meetings do not go away with the theft or loss of a device. In this case, users can apply the remote wipe feature and protect themselves from the illegal use of data. Owing to the capabilities of this software, business can be finally concluded in an almost risk-free manner, allowing for greater governance over sensitive files.
- Real-time updates keep everyone in the loop. Digital board books keep users updated. As soon as someone makes changes or adds comments or notes, the revisions are viewable immediately by other participants. As a result, everyone can adapt quickly to the circumstances. Keeping all participants in the loop in real-time is one of the most convenient benefits of virtual board meetings. Combined with a notification functionality, any additional piece of information is almost impossible to be missed by the directors.
- Directors are more active through remote meetings. Participants are more willing to hold, explore and participate in remote meetings. Not having to travel is certainly an advantage for directors residing out of the area. Among the benefits of virtual meetings, users especially appreciate working with colleagues from anywhere and having all the data at hand. The interface of the solution is designed in a certain way that encourages interaction between attendees of the meeting and keeps their focus on the tasks at hand.
- Going online is a green business decision. U.S. companies alone spend over $120 billion on printed documents annually. Online meeting management software benefits save money — and trees. To sum up, meetings free from paperbound documents do not negatively impact the environment.
The cons of virtual meetings include a lack of face-to-face interaction and technical problems such as a poor internet connection. However, the whole world is slowly moving into the digital world, and thanks to products like Starlink, poor connection will no longer be a problem anywhere in the world. We won’t have to risk being misunderstood due to connectivity issues in the future of board meetings.
With the slow change from the physical realm into the digital world, efficient virtual board meetings are becoming the new norm. When board members can speak, feel, or even experience the meeting the same way they would in a physical setting, that’s when we know our gathering has been successful. Sometimes, virtual board meetings can be confused with paperless board meetings, so we prepared a separate guide to avoid misunderstanding.
We hope this guide on virtual board meeting software provides you with valuable insights and clearly shows that virtual board meetings are the way forward when it comes to gathering at work. If you adhere to all the recommendations above, your team will become a productive and well-coordinated virtual board.