Every board meeting is different; in fact, a meeting that’s relatively dull and discussion-less might follow a meeting comprised of contentious and heated debate. There isn’t a “right” kind of meeting, but there are some ways to help ensure that you’re getting the most out of your in-meeting conversations.
A. Don’t avoid disagreements; give them a structure.
Many individuals are conflict-averse, but the truth is that board meetings sometimes demand that two sides state their cases for different paths forward. Some of the best boardroom discussion can come from a debate-style format, but that’s the trick—the moments of disagreement should feel heavily controlled like they would in an actual debate competition. In other words, set time limits for laying out arguments. Give individuals a structure that ensures balanced speaking time. When directors feel as though they have an equal opportunity to speak, it’s easier to focus on the topic at hand rather than on potential unfairness.