Having Productive and Enjoyable Board Meetings with Emily Davis : Successful Nonprofits

Episode 59

Having Productive and Enjoyable Board Meetings with Emily Davis

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Episode 59

Having Productive and Enjoyable Board Meetings with Emily Davis

Listen on  iTunes    Android     Stitcher    Libsyn

by GoldenburgGroup

Start each meeting with a mission moment to help focus the purpose of each meeting.

Board members spend 5 to 6 hours in meetings each month, yet meetings are not always as productive or enjoyable as they would like.

To rid ourselves of boring meetings, we invited activist, author, and consultant, Emily Davis.  Emily explains how rotating responsibilities, strategic conversations, and extracurricular activities will improve your board meetings.

*****Time Stamped Highlights*****

(4:00) Why most board meetings are not engaging
(5:30) Using “report outs”
(7:00) Food DOES make meetings better
(9:00) Models for you: The pre- and post-meetings
(11:40) How to make the most of your meetings

Preparations before and after the meetings are not about stuffing the board’s ballot box; they are for authentic cultivation.

(12:15) Alice Cochran’s advice on “rotating responsibilities”
(14:36) Stop asking “what” and start asking “why”
(16:00) Guess what? You can wear multiple hats!
(19:50) Beginning your meetings with mission moments
(21:05) Do your homework!
(24:00) Keeping your board structures simple
(28:00) The true role of the Governance Committee
(31:40) Emily and Dolph share the importance of a “spousal club”
(32:45) Tips to improve one-on-one meetings

Emily’s site: www.emilydavisconsulting.com
Emily’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emilydavisconsulting
Emily’s book, Fundraising and the Next Generation
Roberta’s Rules of Order

Read the Transcript for Episode 59 Below or Click Here!

Strategic plans need to be at the top of your agenda so they set the tone for your meeting.

Dolph Goldenburg: Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast. I’m your host Dolph Goldenburg. And today we are talking about facilitating engaging board meetings and the boring board meetings, and we’re talking about this with Emily Davis. Now, just as a reminder, this is one of the many featured conversations that we’re recording at Boardsource’s Board Leadership Forum in Seattle. By the time you hear this interview, BLF will be over, but the excitement and the energy and the knowledge that is gained at BLF will continue for months, if not years to come. Now, if you’ve been on a board and if you work in the nonprofit sector, you probably have also been on at nonprofit board. You know that board members spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings. You’ve got board meetings, committee meetings, subcommittee meetings, and then if you’re the board chair, you have all these one-on-one meetings, even with your ED and vice chair, and the member that is not meeting expectations.

You’ve got just a lot of meetings. So, I tried to figure it out, and I would guess that probably when I’ve served on a board, I’ve probably had between 65 and maybe as much as a hundred hours of meetings every single year. And when you think about it, that’s really only eight or nine meet hours of meeting a month. It’s probably healthy as a board member that you spend time in meetings, and that’s because the key decisions of the organization and really vital information are provided at those board meetings. But if you ever asked yourself, why do I enjoy going to this board meeting and not that board meeting? my passion for the mission is the same, but why is it that board meeting A just a lot more fun and interesting and exciting? And so, today, I am so thrilled that we have Emily Davis with us, and she is going to help us better learn how to have meetings that are not dull because we’ve all sat through those dull meetings, and we have all been at a point where we have felt the dullness literally overcome the passion we have for the organization.

So we are so thrilled that Emily is joining us today. She is going to help teach us how to make meetings productive and engaging. Emily and I actually have a good little bit in common. She has been an activist, executive director, a board chair, an author and consultant. We kind of grooved before this conversation actually started because we do have so much in common. One of the things that we do not have in common is Emily is also a Boardsource certified governance trainer. I think there’s only about a hundred or maybe even less than a hundred in the country. So, the fact that she’s one of the CGT’s also means a great deal. So, let’s play the music and welcome Emily Davis to the podcast.

Hey Emily, welcome to the podcast.

Emily Davis: Hi, thanks for having me.

Dolph Goldenburg: Well again, we are thrilled to have you here, and we’re actually going to have to show a picture of this room in the show notes because they have put us in a beautiful grand ballroom on the top floor of the hotel, and we’re here by ourselves. There’s three of us in the room.

Emily Davis: I know. You and I are both small people in this room is massive, and it’s amazing. I feel very powerful at this room. So, it’s great space and it’s beautiful.

Dolph Goldenburg: Yeah, I just want to put up some dividers and make my apartment. Honestly,

Emily Davis: This could be multiple apartments to bidding up where you left, that’s for sure.

Dolph Goldenburg: So, I’ve got to ask, since you are now the diva of ending dull meetings, I have to ask you, what percentage of meetings do you attend that you would say are dull?

Emily Davis: Over my career I feel like you sort of have a 50, 50 shot as to how bad or how good it’s going to be. You know, there’s really sort of that tipping point. I would say the majority of meetings I attend aren’t that engaging or that inspirational. I’m sure a big part of that is that we’re all trying to get stuff done, and we’re busy, and we do what we can to get through it. There are bigger fish to fry essentially. So my approach to these conversations are always about what’s going to be most engaging for folks. Because at the end of the day, if we do a good job of bringing people onto our boards, let’s say that process goes well, now, they’re going to spend a lot of time in meetings, and you don’t want to bait and switch and say, this is a great recruitment process. Now we’re going to ask you to serve in all these meeting capacities, and it’s going to be mind-numbingly dull. So I’m hoping that little things can change to help people have more successful meetings.

Dolph Goldenburg: So tell me when you’re sitting in the dull meetings, if you were to do a post mortem at the end of it, what makes it dull?

Emily Davis: It’s the reporting out, right? And a lot of times in the governance is leadership model. This is governance is observation, meaning board members aren’t in the conversation. There is staff coming and verbally sharing what’s going on, or board members or verbally sharing what’s going on. But there are no real effective tools to engage people in that meeting to generate deeper, strategic questions. The other big mistake, things that make it boring, and maybe it’s not boring, but it’s a big no, no is meetings without food. I know that sounds really simple, but one of the reasons why this in particular is so important is our boards are all volunteers. We’re asking them to go above and beyond. The least we can do is make sure there’s some food. We don’t know where somebody is coming from or going to. And I know it sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve gone to where there might be a nonprofit who says, “Well, we just didn’t have the budget.” Find a way and get a board spot to sponsor crackers and cheese, but you got to really show up for these folks because they’re showing up for you. So, it’s pretty simple.

Dolph Goldenburg: The issue I take with the report outs is there backward facing and not forward facing. So it’s here’s what we have done. Whereas while you have, the board has to be looking at what the organization has done, the board is really responsible for positioning the organization for the future. And so, like to me, that’s why I just harp on those, report outs.

Emily Davis: Oh my gosh. And there’s so many alternative ways to engage board members, and their job is oversight and it is setting direction and they do need that information, right? But having committee reports, board reports or staff reports, whatever they might be, in advance of the meeting along with the agenda makes a huge amount of difference. And all the devil is in the details here, right? A good board report or committee report isn’t a verbatim minutes, everything that’s gone on, but it gives us summary, enough information that board members can A) be set up to ask better questions and B) have the information for them to be good ambassadors for the organization. So part of that is making sure that even in those reports there’s a summary, but also if there are governance decisions or strategic conversations the board needs to have, you’re teeing that up to go into the actual meeting agenda and helping to create that consent agenda.

Now, having said all this, the board reporting process in advance does take a little bit of time. But I personally world according to Emily would rather spend time preparing those reports and having really good strategic generative, time-appropriate conversations in the board meeting that keeps governance in governance is where it needs to be. I often think about meetings as a metaphor for the theater. You know, what you see on stages and a attendee of, you know, a ballet performance that’s, only about 10% of the deal because there were rehearsals and auditions and practices in tech crew and costumes and makeup. And there are things that you really need to do to cultivate those relationships with people. Set the organization up for long-term success. Think about those pieces even before you get to a meeting and after you get to a meeting.

But that meeting, and I’d like to always really clarify this point. The preparation before the meeting and after the meeting isn’t to like stuff the ballot box on something. It’s about authentic cultivation of relationships and really modeling and preparing people to ask those generative and strategic questions because it’s not obvious to everybody. So, I think it just generally is invest service to the mission and the individuals who are on the board take the time.

Dolph Goldenburg: So how do you help model that behavior, and how do you help your board members asked the generative and, and strategic questions?

Emily Davis: I will give you an example of a board that I served on which had very intelligent, highly successful board members. So, these are smart folks, and I think these tend to be organizations that have that kind of sophistication on their board tend to think, “Oh, they’re good. They’re smart people. They’ll figure it out.”

To have effective meetings, your board members need to hold each other accountable.

Well, never assume anything. Uh, we had, uh, we’d taken six months in a, uh, financial sustainability committee to get a fundraising plan written, but it was very extensive. There was a lot that went into it. Me as the committee chair and the executive director took the time to send out the plan ahead of time obviously, but also spent time first emailing than calling each one of the board members in advance to see what kind of questions they had or what their reactions were. And organically, things come up in those conversations, right? So, I could start to model what questions we might ask at the board level in those conversations. So where someone says, “I’m not sure we should do this tiny detail, or this isn’t the right goal,” I could step back and say, so here’s the process we went through to get to that point.

Why don’t at the board meeting, I think it’d be really helpful since you’re interested in this, to ask about what’s our capacity as a board to help meet those goals. So you’re taking really what the board should be thinking about, kind of reframing that minutia-detailed question and helping facilitate their asking questions in a different way. That way they get to practice and it helps the rest of the board. So it is sort of setting people up for success. And now this is kind of this go slow to go fast model. So you take this time to cultivate this kind of thinking in these relationships, and it gets easier and easier and easier.

Dolph Goldenburg: So that’s some of the work that you can do before a meeting. What are some of the roles that board members can play to help create more effective meetings during the meeting?

Emily Davis: The biggest thing that I think of his board members holding each other accountable. A

Dolph Goldenburg: Amen! I preach expectations and accountability, and I talk all the time about mutual accountability – that you hold me accountable and I hold you accountable.

Emily Davis: So actually being at BLF is really fun, especially this year because one of my sort of governance celebrity crushes is here, which is Ellis Cochran. And she wrote a book called Roberta’s Rules of Order. And one of the great opening lines of her book is, who’s Robert, and why are we following his rules anyway? And she really talks about rotating responsibilities within board meetings. So for example, the board secretary doesn’t actually have to legally take all the minutes, but he or she needs to make sure they are taken and that they’re accurate and maintained.

But you can rotate who takes board meeting minutes. If you’re terrible at taking notes of any kind, don’t sign up to do that. But you can also rotate the meeting facilitation agenda. You could be a timekeeper, you could rotate who coordinates food being there. Those are simple, easy accountability tools. But what’s nice about it, it’s not all on one person for a year or two years. You are allowing other people to step in and try on a different experience that they might want to have later in a different role or do again or whatever. The other piece to all of this is you’ve got those rotating responsibilities, which I say every six months you have people sign up for, depending on how often you meet. The other piece is actually having board members who are open and comfortable with saying, “Hey, that conversation that’s getting in the weeds, can we offline that and talk about that later?”

That shouldn’t always be the chief executive’s job or the staff person’s job, and that’s something you can rotate too. It’s just having that person make sure we stay on task. Finally, I would say that your board meeting agendas should always include at the top your mission statement. And if you have a strategic plan, excuse me, strategic priorities or strategic plan goals, those should be at the top of your meeting agendas because they should really be informing your decisions You want to make sure that you’re asking what decisions are being made or how it’s getting done right? Who’s going to kind of be in charge? Why are we doing what we’re doing? Do they connect to those strategic priorities and goals? iI’s just a practice, but those are things in the meeting I would love to see people thinking about more.

Dolph Goldenburg: One of the things that I love about the idea of rotating roles, is it can take a lot of time or it could not be that much fun to do. So it’s like, oh yeah, well of course doff can take the minutes. But then when you know, Bob actually takes the minutes, he says, oh my gosh, it took three hours, you know, after the meeting to write the minutes, you know? Or if Bob has always want to bring in a freshmen. And I’m like, Bob always brings saltines. But then when it’s my turn, I’m rushing from work and you know, I stopped at the 711, and I pick up saltines.

Emily Davis: I do also think that it creates a level of just human empathy, which we could all use more of. And I know it’s simple as saltines and soda, but it does really make a difference to step in somebody else’s shoes or their responsibilities. I have to say that the biggest pushback I get to that is, “Well, I can’t take minutes and listen at the same time.” Now, that may be very true, but I have been a secretary on the board many, many times over because I have outstanding minutes taking. I listen better because I have to write down what’s going on. Maybe not every detail, but I’m capturing the information in a different way.

Dolph Goldenburg: So, one of my mottoes in life is if you really want to do something, you will find a way. And if you don’t, you will find an excuse. Someone should look at that board member who says, I cannot listen and take minutes of the same time and say, oh well, you know, your phone has this app, and you can record everything that happens in the meeting. So, you can either take a minutes now and listen later, or you can listen now, fully participate and take your minutes later.

Emily Davis: I completely agree. And Lots of boards too, sorry to go down this minutes route. But I think it’s important actually because it comes up so much is say, oh well we have a staff person do that. I get it. I understand that is really helpful. I still believe that board should be responsible for itself.

Dolph Goldenburg: As an ED, I also understand that the person who writes history is the person who makes history. And so, whoever writes the minutes pretty much gets to decide how everything went down in the meeting. Do you really want a junior staff member who is typically who you have come in and take minutes, decide what your corporate history is going to look like?

Emily Davis: So, these are exactly the bigger picture strategic thinking questions that I would love to see more board members have the time to employ in their world. You actually made me think of something about sort of who you put as the face of the organization in different cases. And I think a parallel example is with social media where a lot of nonprofits go, oh we have a young intern. And so, they can do all this social media cause they know how this Snapchat thing works or Instagram works, right? But is that the same person that you would put in front of your local news channels if they showed up at your office door? Everybody has to learn stuff. There’s gotta be a strategy and a plan. You need a roadmap to know where you’re going. And if you have board members who aren’t comfortable in certain roles, we as other board members are nonprofit staff should find ways to help make that possible. And there are tons of ways to take minutes. There are tons of ways to facilitate in time keep. We’re all learning, and that’s, you know, that’s what a learning organization is. You try stuff.

Dolph Goldenburg: Emily, we’re going to take a short break, and when we return, we’re going to discuss how boards can prioritize their development discussions instead of what we’ve already decided are bad, which are those committee report outs.

The Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast is produced by the Goldenburg Group as part of our mission to provide board development, strategic planning and interim leadership to help nonprofits thrive in a competitive environment.

You can find out more about us at www.goldenburggroup.com.

We are back with Emily Davis talking about how to make your meetings more engaging and less dull. So Emily, I promised that when we return from the break we were going to have more of a conversation about how we can make our meetings a lot less dull and how we can focus our boards on those governance decisions they need to be making. Tell us some more.

Emily Davis: Another piece is starting a meeting with a mission moment. A mission moment is really a story and an anecdote of behind the scenes moment that a board member shares that just brings things back to the mission. Now, the thing about this I will say is it doesn’t have to be, I went to the animal shelter , and I helped with all these drugs. It can be about a great strategic meeting you had with your executive director. Those are feel good moments. That helps to remind people why they’re there, which is ultimately the job of the board – is to create, fulfill, evaluate the mission and the purpose of the organization. Right? So that’s important governance.

Another way we keep governance in governance meetings is to do annual assessments, board self-assessments. Boardsource has great tools on this. Our meeting assessments, looking at how our meetings on time, that’s going to help bring people to ask the governance questions. Lastly, I would say that governance is leadership, Boardsource resources. There are lots of things, and I find that the best board members aren’t the ones who have all the answers, but they know the ones who know what questions to ask. Come to each board meeting with a strategic question with the fiduciary question, with a generative question, which is a little bit of governance lingo. A great example is for me has been, I’m not a great numbers person, or I haven’t been; I’ve gotten a lot better because I work very hard at it.

Uh, whenever I challenged myself in every board meeting to come with one question about the finances and I asked myself, is this too high level? Is it right where it should be or is it too far in the weeds? I think of it as sort of operations and altitude. And every time I was nervous cause every time I thought I’d sound dumb, and every time somebody else had the same question. So coming with questions, talking with other board members, maybe a board buddy before a meeting to just sort of practice. “I can’t tell if this is too in the weeds, if I need to get higher level.” Another thing I would do with my executive director is, you know, as I was the vice chair and the chair of the governance committee, so we met a lot, and I would say to her, do you think I’m wearing the right hat in this conversation?

Am I keeping this focused enough on governance and our priorities? Where can I as a board member support you as an executive director and making sure the board stays focused on the right stuff, meaning what’s in the agenda? A lot of those pre-meeting and post-meeting conversation, so post-meeting conversation. “Hey, can we offline that piece in the board meeting, whatever it might be and talk about it after and then follow up?” Do what you say so that it’s not that you’re dismissing people if they’re not focused on governance but saying this is still important. Let’s just talk about it later. When we can dive into the details, you can always bring it back to a board meeting, or you can always email about it.

There are plenty of ways. So I would say it’s a lot of soft skills, right? I would also recommend anybody who’s facilitating meetings, go to a training, become a facilitator. Go to a Webinar. Anything that will help practice those skills and sort of flex those muscles is going to help you in board meetings to create that accountability and keep things focused. Finally, let the staff do their job, assuming you have staff. If you’re in a board meeting, do not worry about what color of the Napkins are at the event. That is not helpful. They are great experts. Let them do that, right? So really elevate the level of conversation.

Dolph Goldenburg: How do you feel bored structure impacts how engaging and how governance focused. So, if you’ve got a marketing committee and you’ve got a marketing director on staff?

Emily Davis: board structure becomes really important. And there’s another overlay to this that I think gets missed a lot, which is your structure, the types of meetings you have, the quality of the meetings are also really dependent on where your organization is and the board is organization in its organizational life cycle and the board in its organizational life cycle. I just talked with some folks today about this is that if your organization, the staff, the volunteers, so on and so forth are really at let’s say a growth or maturity phase, but your board’s still in that idea or startup phase, you’re going to have much different challenges. The board’s late more likely to sort of be displaced by the board and avoided in a lot of ways because it’s like, we’re already moving and grooving. You got to keep up. So the structure of a board I think really should be at a high-level simple.

Rotating board responsibilities is a great way to spice up your members’ experiences.

So, you’ve got your board and you’ve got the committees, you’ve got standing committees or ad hoc committees. The thing is you don’t want to have so many committees that you can’t maintain them and they’re unwieldy. Just like you wouldn’t want to have so many staff if you weren’t prepared to manage and financially support that staff. So, do what’s reasonable. You want all of your committees chaired by a board member because ultimately that’s going to just help with communications can make your life a lot easier in the end. If you have a development department, right? Let’s say you have more than one person and development. You want to have a fundraising committee, and the more sophisticated that development department is, the more you might have subcommittees for particular campaigns. That makes sense to me. Now, on the flip side, let’s say you don’t have development staff, or you’re a startup organization where you don’t have any staff. Those committees become really important and can function in a very similar way as a whole staff person would. It’s a little tricky, but I’ve started multiple volunteer-run organizations, and we’ve done that, and it’s been awesome.

Dolph Goldenburg: If a board is going to have a board development committee, I kind of feel like that committee needs to be focused on how to engage the board in fundraising. It’s not, we’re here to act as a pseudo supervisor of your development department. We are here to support your development department by getting our board members engaged in fundraising. Do you disagree?

Emily Davis: No, I don’t disagree at all. I always recommend that boards have a governance committee that is really responsible for the health of the board. A little side note that was great information for me from Vernetta Walker years ago is that the governance committee should ideally be chaired by the vice chair of the board if you’ve got that, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. So the governance committee, I think a lot of people think, Oh, our governance committee is nominations. But there’s a whole board building cycle of identification, recruitment, engagement, board self-assessments, strategic planning. That’s really a board function with a side by side with the executive director. Social gatherings of boards. Crazy thing that we might actually spend time with our board members. Now, the board development or board governance committee absolutely should be responsible for things like setting expectations, which includes what I call fundraising, what are the expectations around that and holding the board accountable because it really should not be your chief executive’s job to do that.

The Governance Committee, I would also say, um, one should just have only board members. So other committees may have non-board members, but that’s when I would stick to just board members, and they can work with the fundraising committee. Not everything has to be siloed, but who’s going to take the lead, you know, trust that you will figure it out. I know that feels like a leap for a lot of people, but it does happen. Your governance committee really sets the expectations, the accountability and the health of the organization.

Dolph Goldenburg: You also just mentioned social activities for board members outside of board meetings, which I am a huge fan of because I believe that helps build a stronger board, but also more engaging meetings. What are some ways that you’ve actually seen those external social activities help make better meetings?

Emily Davis: When I do facilitated trainings on board governance, one of the things I always ask people is, you know, why do people stay on boards? So once you’re there, what keeps you there? And one of the biggest things are people. You can have the greatest mission in the world, but if the other people around the table are miserable to work with, why would you stick around? Well, if people are such a driving force, and relationships are such a driving force as they are in fundraising, then why don’t we make time to get to know each other and deepen those connections and cultivate those relationships. As a side note, all of our board members should also be donors. You want them to feel good about cultivating a relationship within the organization. Very simple things that I’ve seen work incredibly well.

Having time scheduled before a board meeting, even 15 or 30 minutes that are sort of optional like a happy hour of board meetings. If you do an annual retreat, make sure you leave time for something in the middle or at the end of the day. Have a picnic once a year that’s just for fun and ask people to bring their families. Get to know other people. So it’s just going to change the dynamic. You get to know people better. You have deeper connections, therefore you’re all more invested and less likely to bolt.

Dolph Goldenburg: I also think that when you actually know the people that you’re sitting around the table with, you are more likely to be candid and less likely to be so entrenched in your position that you will not budge.

Emily Davis:: Right? And that’s just speaks plainly to trust, right? You have more trust in other people. And you know, organizations. They’re not machines. They’re actually made up of human beings. Basic Psychology and research tells us that people need connection, so that’s part of working with people. Have a good time. Make sure that there’s time before events just for the board. I’m part of, there’s a senior governance consultants here. There’s about 14 of us for board source and every year or every other year now at BLF, we all get together and have dinner and we just have a good time. Yes, we talk about client work and we wax intellectual, but we just laugh and have a great time and it deepens the relationship between all of us. We’re all over the country. It feels kind of like a bored cause there’s only 14 of us. It’s awesome.

Dolph Goldenburg: I also want to ping off of, you mentioned getting board members’ spouses involved, and I cannot recommend that enough. My favorite executive director Gig that I was telling you about earlier, we actually kind of had us spouses club because we asked a lot of our board, and we asked that our board would be away from home a lot. Quite honestly doing meetings and activities for the organization, etc. And so, when we would do our annual board retreat, the spouses club, while they did not go do something all day long, they went in did something in the early to midafternoon. So they all would kind of get to know each other, and then they would meet the board for dinner, you know, so they’d meet their spouses for dinner afterward. But then the other big thing that that started to happen then was like when we would do our big annual gala, spouses instead of being dragged to it, would look forward to him. And it also meant when, you know, when they, when their spouse for had a board meeting that night, they would say, oh, well tell David that I said hi to Gary. Or you know, tell Deb that I said hi to June.

Emily Davis: But I also think that it leads to another piece. And I always have this multigenerational lens with what I do just because it’s my research background. But you know, I’m seeing more and more boards say, oh we want diversity, and we need some young people but your meetings or in the middle of the day or somebody doesn’t feel like, or they may not know if they can bring their kid with them cause they don’t have afterschool care babysitters or whatever it is. Emerging leaders have different life stages than somebody who’s retired, there’s wrong with that but there needs to be accommodation for that. And once a year having a social gathering where somebody is welcome to bring their family, is great. Plus it gives us insight into who they are. Again, getting away from sort of that machine. I mean I grew up going to board meetings with my parents, and I learned a lot from an early age just by being, I didn’t know I was learning but just by being in the room.

So, you’re kind of opening up, you know, exposure to even another generation of potential donors and board members. And so, I think when we talk about social gatherings or meeting structure or even rotating the meeting time or making sure people can call in or whatever it is as we get more flexible, we are going to be able to be first more diverse and more inclusive, and those are practices that I think are really important for effective engagement. Otherwise, we’re just going to see our same faces around the table, and that really doesn’t do anything to serve the mission in the end.

If you don’t leave space for people to share ideas, your meetings will continue to be subpar.

Dolph Goldenburg: So, Emily, thank you so much for being with us today. Before we let you go, I’ve got an Off-the-Map question for you, and this is probably more of a curve ball. So we’ve been talking about meetings, effective meetings, but these are meetings with groups of people. So I’m going to turn this around. When you are doing a one on one meeting with someone, maybe it’s the first time you met with them, maybe it’s an ongoing regular meeting, define it however you want, what are three things that you want to make sure you do?

Emily Davis: Always ask questions and open ended questions. I should say one of my favorite ones to ask is what is success look like for you? What would make this work for you? Right. Things like that. And I will be honest, this next thing is something that I struggle with, but I still practice is to shut up and listen. It’s like you feel like you always have to have the answers. But being a facilitator means ask the question and let people figure it out. I try to be quiet and listen, and in that, just to hold space for people to figure it out. And then I would say third is follow-up, you know, be authentic, be accountable. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And in that, I’m very much an under-promise and over-deliver person. So if I think I’m going to get it to them in two days, you know, the follow-up, I might say I’m going to get it to within a week. And if it’s four days and I’ve still met that goal and that expectation, but following up and being true to your word, I think feels very, very important.

Dolph Goldenburg: I could not agree with you more whether it’s your first meeting with someone or your last, that’s how you establish trust.

Emily Davis: Absolutely. And You establish trust, you establish relationships and do what you say you’re gonna do.

Dolph Goldenburg: So Emily, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I facilitate an inordinate number of meetings and so, um, I am proud to say that I’ve picked up a couple of tips that I’m going to use, so thank you. And I’ve also picked up a couple of ideas to maybe share with some of my clients. Like, hey, why don’t you rotate? So I have some clients had already rotate bringing food, but why don’t you rotate things that made me feel like they’re a higher-level, like rotate taking minutes or rotate meeting facilitation. You know, let everyone have a tryout at leadership. So, I will be taking that with me. Thank you. Now, of course I would be remiss if I did not encourage all of our listeners to visit your website at www.emilydavisconsulting.com. Listeners, at her website you can learn more about her book Fundraising in the Next Generation.

We have not talked at all about this book. It’s been out for about four years, but it’s worth your while to pick up a copy of that book at that website. You can also read her blog, you can find out more about her services, and if you would like to see her speak alive, she is definitely on the speaking circuit, and she has her entire circuit on there. So Emily, thank you again for joining us. And the last thing I need to make sure folks know is that you are on Instagram at www.instagram.com/emilydavisconsulting, and everyone who knows, that I am not on Instagram. I think it’s probably a sign that I’m middle age because I don’t know anything about Instagram. Emily, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Emily Davis: Thanks.

Dolph Goldenburg: If you are on the subway walking your dog, just don’t have a pen in hand and did not get down Emily’s URL, you can always go to www.successfulnonprofits.com and there you can pick up the show notes and you can get contact information for Emily. You also can get a link to her book as well as all link to the book that she mentioned, which is Roberta’s Rules of Order. So we will link that in our show notes as well. So as always, if you like this podcast, if you get something out of this podcast, please tell a friend about it, subscribe rate and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, or your streaming app of choice. And while you’re online, hop on over to the social media. I do hang out at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and send me a quick note. There’s only one Dolph Goldenberg in the universe. So if you put that name in the search bar, I will come up. Thank you again for joining us today. That’s our show for this week. I hope you have gained some insight that will help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.

(Disclaimer) I’m not an accountant or attorney, and neither I nor the Successful Nonprofits™ provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been providing for informational purposes only and is not intended or should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. Always consult a qualified licensed professional about such matters.




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