Opinion: My Thoughts on Attending a Virtual Board Meeting

woman in black blazer sitting on black office chair

I attended the virtual Board of Directors meeting on July 9, 2020.  Since the stay-at-home order in March, the GHI Board of Directors has been holding their twice monthly meetings via Zoom.  As with in-person meetings, all GHI members are invited to attend the Open Session meetings.  I have attended in-person meetings in the past, but this was my first virtual meeting. I’ve compiled a list of positives from my experience and some suggestions I think would improve the meetings.

Positives:

  • It was so easy to attend!  I enjoyed being able to attend from the comfort of my own home.  I find the Board Room to be small and uncomfortable, but I didn’t have to worry about that from my couch.  I even noticed people attending from their backyards!
  • High member attendance.  There are always members that attend the in-person meetings, but it was great to see how many members attended virtually.  Members are continuing to participate in the meetings, and it’s wonderful to see how many members attended virtually who may not have the ability to attend if it were in-person.  It has been noted that there has been high member attendance during the virtual meetings.
  • A time-saver. Although the longest drive from a GHI home to Hamilton Place is not far, it still adds time before and after each meeting to attend in-person. I was able to join the meeting right when it was time to start, and I was already home when the meeting ended.
  • I could hear clearly.  I find that the acoustics of the Board Room often make it difficult to hear all comments, but this was not the case with the virtual meeting.  I heard clearly and understood all the comments and questions that were shared.

Suggested Improvements:

  • Mute participants upon entry.  In my experience with virtual meetings, it’s helpful to have participants muted upon entry to block out extraneous noise.  This was not the case with this Zoom meeting, and I felt that it caused a lot of distraction at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Show names and positions of Board and staff members.  Board and staff members do not have a standardized format for their names; some used first and last name, some used first name only, some used what appeared to be a Zoom username.  I would love to see a standardized name format used among Board and staff members that stated names and position (e.g. Jane Smith, Board Member).

All in all, I found that the virtual Board of Directors meeting was a positive experience.  Though I did find some areas in need of improvement, these were not reason enough to outweigh the positives.  The virtual Board meetings have added a new level of accessibility to GHI members, and I hope that the practice of virtual attendance continues in the future.

Author: Lauren Wisniewski

Lauren is a lifelong Greenbelter. She grew up in GHI as a child and returned to GHI as an owner in 2009.

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