A healthier approach to board meetings
Wednesday, July 07, 2021
We ask volunteer leaders to convene in a board meeting. Some directors travel across town while others spend hours seated in cars or planes. Meetings may range from an hour to a day, sometimes as frequently as monthly or quarterly.
Upon arrival, directors are invited to have a coffee, cookie or other carbs, and to take a seat. The meeting is gaveled to order.
We believe small improvements in board health and room environment can lead to better performance.
It is common to find a boardroom set up with directors' seated shoulder to shoulder, barely enough room to move. Think about the importance of movement and comfort at the meeting.
Sitting stagnant for as little as 30 minutes increases fatigue and decreases circulation. These two factors can be detrimental if we are looking for members to be alert, focused and make contributions. Additionally, the longer we sit the harder it is to maintain good posture, which can then bring on orthopedic aches and discomfort.
In Japan, workers are encouraged to participate in a 5 to 10-minute movement break where they stand up, stretch and shake it out. Make time for board members to take a purposeful break at least once an hour.
This can be as simple as having them stand up and play some upbeat music, changing the dynamics by doing a portion of the meeting outside to provide fresh air, or setting up an easy, quick, fun breakout game which also has cognitive benefits.
They expect breaks for lunch, smoking and coffee. A movement break may sound unconventional; however, it is very much a necessity.
It's time to rethink what we offer to volunteers on the break. The common food at a board meeting is cookies and brownies; they are hard to resist when the body needs a sugar-rush. To wash down the sugar, an array of soft drinks and coffee are provided.
Research suggests attention spans can last as little as 20-minutes in a meeting. One of the issues with sugar and sodas is that the body will end up craving more and more of it, putting the body on a roller coaster of spiking and crashing. Think about the snowball effect of those sitting for too long and then consuming sugar.
Look to employ a variety of colorful snacks such as greens, yellows, reds, oranges, and purples; with each color providing its own specific energetic and refreshing health benefits. Allow flavorful water and hydrating foods such as celery and cucumbers to provide a constant level of energy throughout the day versus the usual ebbs and flow. Get creative with energy boosters such as ginger shots and green juices, which will not only provide energy, but also aid in gut health and mental clarity.
Hydration is so important it is worth mentioning again. Provide fewer sodas and more waters; there are many varieties available.
Setting up different water stations with lemons, lime, watermelon, mint, etc. are sound and fun choices. Guess when one of the best times to drink water is? When there is movement involved.
Movement provides the water an opportunity to be distributed throughout the body, which also aids in blood flow and circulation. It is ironic how these issues and solutions are linked.
We ask the board to be visionaries, yet we oftentimes lock them in a room with no windows. Find meeting locations that have natural light.
Research has shown that individuals perform better, are happier, and more productive when they are close to a window and have sunlight. A dose of natural vitamin D through sunlight can refocus a board.
Most boards have a meeting planner. Give thought to the comfort of the room, natural light, and the ability to control the environment. Noisy locations make listening difficult and stressful.
In summary, it does not take much to support a healthy board. Caring for your board's health with simple meeting changes can lead to improved results and happier volunteers.
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