Dear League Leaders,

Have you ever endured a three hour board meeting that achieved little but the frustration of the attendees? Have you ever left a board meeting wondering why two hours were spent on plans for the annual meeting and there wasn't time to discuss proposals from communications team? Have you ever rushed to be on time for a board meeting and it started thirty minutes late? If any of this sounds familiar, discover how creating and using "Action Agendas" can help your board have productive and enjoyable meetings.

There are four key elements.

1. Allot a specific time for each agenda item.

You may not always be able to adhere strictly to the time allotment, but board members will know that exceeding the time allotted to one item may limit time on another item that may be of particular interest to them.

2. Define the purpose for each item on the agenda

For example, the Executive Committee item might be hiring the auditor and the Voter Service Committee item might be to review a proposal for a new registration effort in your community. This can help you avoid the rambling committee reports that happen without such a definition.

3. Assign a person responsible for presenting each item.

If the Chairperson of the Development Committee knows it is his responsibility to report on the your fund drive, she/he will have the numbers rather than relying on staff (if you have any) or the president to present them.

4. Designate any action the Board will need to take on each item.

Since the approval of the minutes and financial reports are key items to be noted in meeting minutes, designate these as items requiring a vote. Other items may also require a vote. On the other hand, a report on a recent community meeting or staff development requests generally require discussion, not voting.

If your Board isn't used to such a structured agenda, it may take time and determination to make this approach successful. The Board Chairperson will have to carefully craft the agenda with the people involved and will also have to explain to Board members why he or she has chosen to run meetings this way. It may take a few meetings to make this new approach work well. We human creatures seem to have a built-in opposition to change! However, in my experience, once board members use this approach, two things happen that greatly benefit their League. First, much more productive work occurs before, during and after the meetings. Second, people actually look forward to attending meetings and this enthusiasm can extend into other aspects of your League.