Board Meeting Rules of Engagement

Preparation and Participation

  • Complete pre-reading and background work to understand agenda items.
  • Contribute to dialogue and deliberation with concise and focused comments.
  • Challenge assumptions and ask the hard questions.
  • Make the “business case” with your contributions, not simply opinion.
  • Pick your battles; not everything is worth a tussle.
  • Remain open-minded; approach topics and differences with a sense of inquiry.
  • Explore minority opinion and value all points of view.
  • Avoid zingers and distracting side conversations.
  • Say it in the Boardroom not the hallway: we’re a team and need candidness.
  • Stick to lay language and avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Encourage and involve quieter members.
  • Actively support group decisions. Move on when the group moves on.
  • Assure discussion includes strategic relevance of all decisions.
  • Stay out of the weeds and details of operations.
  • Require invited presenters to submit “pre-read” materials to protect discussion time.


  • Get to the point, no speeches or long stories.
  • Be prepared, participate.
  • Be open-minded; have a sense of appreciative inquiry.
  • Lighten up.
  • Focus on the problem, not the person.
  • Limit side conversations, texting and emailing; step out if you must chat or take a call.
  • Pick your fights: focus on important points and don’t nit pick.
  • Support the decision…move on when the group moves on.
  • Explore the minority opinion – encourage different points of view.
  • Say it in the room, not in the hall.
  • Don’t rush decision-making.
  • Lob up ideas/suggestions – i.e.: “how about this?” vs. “I think.”
  • Slay sacred cows —challenge assumptions, honor skepticism and question
Scroll to Top