Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, board meetings through video conference facility meant one or two members attending through the Video Conference (VC) and the majority attending in person. Post March 2020, Board meeting through VC means almost all members attend through it. Given this change, there is a need to ensure meeting practices are effective. Answer these five questions to ascertain how effective your board meetings now are using VC.
- Is the Agenda notice circulated in advance with all the supporting documents to enable informed decision making?
In a board meeting conducted with members physically present, companies may present supporting documents for some resolutions at the meeting. However, for Post COVID-19 meetings through VC, providing supporting documents at the last minute or just before the commencement of meetings may result in ill-informed decision making and hence is avoidable.
- Is adequate time allocated prior to the meeting for ensuring all members can connect to the meeting?
Technology can often spring a surprise, especially when using a new software, or device. Hence organisers of the Board Meeting through VC need to allocate adequate time before the board meeting to ensure that all the participants are familiar with the software used and where required, a trial run is conducted to ensure hassle free meetings.
- Are all participants required to make an opening statement to ensure that they have got the notice and can participate effectively in the meeting?
In board meetings through VC, the body language of participants is not as visible unlike in a meeting with physical presence. Hence, it is essential that every participant is given an opportunity to make a few generic comments along with the opening statement that is required to be made by the regulations for participants through VC. Their generic observations and concerns set the tone for the meeting thereby laying a strong foundation for conducting fruitful meetings.
- Is an opportunity provided to each of the participants to share their views on each resolution before it is voted on?
Following the practice outlined at the start of the meeting in the earlier question, it is essential that each participant, excluding the interested directors, is provided an opportunity to share their views on each of the proposed resolution before a decision is arrived at. While in a meeting with physical presence, this is a desirable action, in meetings with majority attending through video conference, this is an essential requirement to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on where each of the members stand on the issues deliberated upon and decided.
- At the end of the meeting does the Chairperson or the Secretary provide a summary of all the decisions taken in the meeting by listing it out one by one to get concurrence of all the members?
Despite best of technologies, connectivity can be a bottleneck and where wireless connectivity is used, often transmission signals can fluctuate thereby causing intermittent disruptions. To ensure that these disruptions do not vitiate or reduce the effectiveness of meetings, the Chairperson/ Secretary should sum up all the decisions taken in the meeting. This helps all participants to be on the same page and eliminate misunderstanding. Summarization of decisions taken at the end of the meeting is in addition to the legal requirement to conclude each agenda item discussed by stating the decision taken.