Bored Meetings?

Have you ever had a problem leading a board meeting?  Usually it is with a person on the board who is difficult.  I am posting a blog by Dr. Larry Shelton who explains why this often happens and how to get past it.

Do board meetings have to be boring?  Some of the most vital issues any organization may face get addressed in board meetings.  Sadly, some, many, all (?) of those present are bored (correct spelling).  I have been part of board meetings for over 40 years.  I can only guess how many of those meetings are still remembered fondly by those who attended.

Maybe like you, I have read much about how to make board meetings more effective and interesting for those who attend.  Yet, I don’t recall reading a “blurb” entitled something like “Board meetings and the motivational value system of those present.”  I wish I had read something like that.  If I had had such a wise offering, it could have brought so much more insight and effectiveness to the many board meetings I attended as well as led. I could have done better but I didn’t know how.

Do you know what I mean when I write, “I could have done better?”  For instance, as I recall, there were board meetings where:

  • Some people (faces come to mind) would just sit there, arms folded, rarely offering any input; eyes rarely making contact with me.  To myself I would wonder, “Why don’t you join in?”  On the rare occasions when they did say something, it was amazingly brief…but good.  I wish they would have said more.  If I asked for impromptu, “just throw your ideas out there” ideas, they rarely offered anything.  I assumed they were totally disengaged.  Boy, was I wrong!
  • Then there were those people who never seemed to stop talking.  They had an opinion on everything and occasionally they even shared something they owned themselves.  Mostly they were concerned about a “lot of people” and the input those people were supposedly giving.  Needless to say, these “talkers” were challenging.  When I led a meeting I really needed input from all those present, but these folks would often test my limits when we gathered.  To myself I would contemplate ways to limit their input.
  • And there were other people who would express frustration and mild-anger (I thought) as they observed, that we never really got anything done (their opinion).  They often communicated, “Why is this taking us so long?  Why don’t we just decide!  We talked about this last time we met and here we are talking about it again.   We need more forward momentum!”  From my perspective, we had healthy momentum; we needed more input; everybody should be given a chance to say something so we can all move ahead together, right?  After all, shouldn’t unity and togetherness be highly valued?

With the training I now have, I realize so much more was going on in those meetings; more than what I observed.  In those meetings, I would see attendee’s behaviors (as I described above) then, unawares, interpret those behaviors through my motivational value system.  Sadly, my interpretation was wrong as often as it was right. (Or is that assessment wishful thinking on my part?)

Bottom line?  If you take the time to learn the motivational value system of your team or board, you won’t have to guess what is going on in your meetings.  Instead, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how each person in the room is approaching the issues at hand.  No longer will you have to mistakenly interpret their behavior(s) through your filters.  You’ll know.  Talk about freeing and encouraging!  Really, there is no need to be bored at board meetings.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.