Strategies for Hosting a Successful Hybrid Nonprofit Board Meeting

July 16, 2023

In the ever-changing world of communication, the traditional nonprofit board meeting is undergoing a transformation. Geographical barriers, public health concerns, and busy schedules are no longer obstacles. Welcome to the era of hybrid nonprofit board meetings, where in-person interaction marries virtual participation, offering a flexible, inclusive solution to nonprofit governance challenges.

Short Summary

  • Hybrid nonprofit board meetings offer diverse participation and flexibility for changing circumstances.
  • Proper preparation is essential to ensure fairness, accessibility, and engagement in hybrid meetings.
  • Enhance board member engagement through interactive elements and recognition of successes.

Embracing Hybrid Nonprofit Board Meetings

The BoardSite meeting viewer is a great way to keep in-person and virtual board meeting participants on the same page.

A hybrid nonprofit board meeting is a blend of the conventional and the contemporary, combining physical meetings with virtual ones. This innovative approach is quickly becoming the new norm, with 54% of companies now hosting hybrid meetings. But why the shift? The answer lies in the benefits that hybrid meetings offer, from logistical convenience to cost-effectiveness.

As the name suggests, hybrid meetings offer a mix of in-person and virtual participation, catering to board members who may be geographically dispersed or unable to travel for various reasons. This blend of physical and virtual meetings not only allows for a more diverse board, but also gives nonprofits the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances without disrupting the rhythm of governance.

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The New Normal: Hybrid Meetings

Hybrid board meetings are the ‘new normal’ for nonprofits, blending both in-person and remote attendance to create stimulating, effective, and influential meetings. These effective nonprofit board meetings typically convene monthly or quarterly, accommodating the schedules of busy board members, including remote board members, while ensuring that the nonprofit’s governance objectives are met. To prepare for the board meetings of the future, it’s essential to embrace this hybrid model.

But the hybrid model isn’t just about convenience. It’s about creating a more engaging, more inclusive board meeting experience. If a meeting is projected to exceed an hour, it may be beneficial to incorporate a break to maintain engagement and focus. After all, an engaged board member is an effective board member.

Benefits of Hybrid Meetings for Nonprofits

There are many benefits of hybrid meetings. They offer the potential for increased participation and flexibility, broadening the board’s reach and building engagement, all while helping conserve resources. One key benefit is the reduction in travel costs, as board members can attend remotely, eliminating the need for physical travel.

Moreover, hybrid meetings increase accessibility by enabling remote attendance, making it easier for individuals with disabilities or limited mobility to participate. This not only ensures inclusivity, but also facilitates a diverse board membership by providing easier access for individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives.

Preparing for Your Hybrid Nonprofit Board Meeting

Preparing and sending a meeting agenda helps board members prepare for the meeting.

Moving towards a hybrid model requires thoughtful preparation. The first step is setting clear expectations and guidelines. Here are some critical steps in preparing for a successful hybrid meeting:

  1. Outline expectations
  2. Set up the room
  3. Communicate with intention
  4. Create and share an agenda and meeting materials
  5. Test technology in advance
  6. Assign a facilitator

By following these steps, you can ensure that your hybrid meeting runs smoothly and effectively.

Adequate preparation can prevent confusion and frustration among board members and staff, ensuring the meeting runs smoothly.

Set Clear Expectations and Guidelines

Setting expectations for a hybrid meeting involves outlining expectations, arranging the room to achieve the meeting’s objectives, and conveying messages with purpose. It’s about establishing norms and expectations that ensure fairness and effectiveness. This includes providing equal opportunities to speak and contribute through a lineup of speakers, as well as discussing the process for recording votes on official board action.

Clear guidelines not only ensure that the meeting runs smoothly, but also ensure that each board member knows what is expected of them. This way, every board member can contribute effectively to the meeting, regardless of whether they are physically present or joining virtually.

Distribute Materials in Advance

The distribution of materials ahead of time is a key aspect of preparation. Providing materials in advance guarantees that all board members are adequately prepared and knowledgeable for the meeting. These materials might include the board meeting agenda, meeting minutes, financials, and any other documents that will be discussed during the meeting.

Sharing these materials in a digital format, with a meeting viewer for example, allows board members to:

  • Access them at their convenience
  • Ensure they are well-prepared for the meeting
  • Enhance productivity
  • Ensure that everyone is on the same page as they approach the meeting.

Selecting the Right Technology for Your Hybrid Meeting

The BoardSite board portal gives access to hybrid board meetings and key board / committee documents all in one place.

The right technology is the lifeblood of a successful hybrid meeting. It is necessary to evaluate virtual meeting platforms and invest in quality equipment to ensure a seamless and productive experience. Whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or another platform, choosing the right virtual meeting platform is crucial for effective communication and collaboration.

Quality equipment, such as cameras, microphones, and content-sharing tools, is also essential to facilitate communication and collaboration. Even the most thoughtfully prepared meeting can be derailed by technical difficulties.

Evaluate Virtual Meeting Platforms

When selecting a virtual meeting platform, it is important to ensure that it is user-friendly and reliable, allowing for seamless navigation and interaction among board members. This is not only important for the smooth running of the meeting, but also to ensure that all board members feel comfortable and confident using the platform.

Testing the platform with each board member who will be joining virtually is a good way to ensure a smooth and productive experience. Familiarity with the platform can reduce technical difficulties and help the meeting run smoothly.

Invest in Quality Equipment

The quality of the equipment used in a hybrid meeting can have a significant impact on communication and collaboration. High-quality equipment includes:

  • Cameras
  • Conference speakers
  • Dedicated microphone
  • TV screens

Using these high-quality equipment ensures that all participants can be heard and seen clearly.

Investing in quality equipment for a hybrid meeting can improve communication and collaboration between in-person and remote participants. After all, clear communication is the cornerstone of effective board meetings.

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Facilitating Effective Communication in Hybrid Meetings

In hybrid meetings, effective communication is key. Here are some tips to enhance the effectiveness of communication in these meetings:

  • Encourage active participation from all attendees
  • Utilize collaboration tools to facilitate collaboration and discussion
  • Ensure all participants have access to the same technology and tools
  • Test the technology in advance to avoid any technical issues and ensure a smooth experience

By following these tips, you can have a more productive and successful hybrid meeting.

Encourage Active Participation

Active participation is crucial to the success of hybrid meetings. By engaging both in-person and remote attendees with interactive components, such as polls, breakout sessions, and Q&A portions, board members can be more engaged and focused.

Furthermore, ensuring that all board members, including remote participants, have a chance to speak and be heard can foster a secure and respectful atmosphere for all board members to express their views. An engaged board member is an effective board member.

Utilize Asynchronous Communication Tools

Asynchronous communication tools can facilitate more flexible and efficient communication in hybrid meetings. These digital tools enable communication between individuals or groups without requiring real-time interaction. Examples include:

  • Board portals like BoardSite
  • Email
  • Messaging apps
  • Document sharing platforms

These tools not only facilitate streamlined communication between board members, but also enable board members to access documents and updates whenever necessary, thereby facilitating keeping up with board activities.

Overcoming Challenges in Hybrid Nonprofit Board Meetings

Like with any new system, hybrid meetings come with their share of challenges. These include technical issues, communication barriers, and difficulty in engaging remote participants. However, these challenges can be overcome with careful planning and a proactive approach.

Addressing potential issues and conflicts in hybrid meetings involves bridging the gap between in-person and remote participants and handling technical difficulties. By taking a proactive approach and having backup plans in place, disruptions can be minimized.

Bridging the Gap Between In-Person and Remote Participants

Bridging the gap between in-person and remote participants is crucial to the success of hybrid meetings. This can be achieved by paying attention to nonverbal cues, encouraging active participation, and utilizing asynchronous communication tools.

From ensuring equal access for both audiences to optimizing audio and video quality, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure a successful hybrid meeting. After all, a hybrid meeting is only as successful as its least engaged participant.

Handling Technical Difficulties

Technical difficulties can disrupt the flow of a meeting. However, with careful preparation and a proactive approach, these issues can be minimized. Ensuring that all participants have the necessary equipment and technical understanding to engage in the meeting is a good start.

Having a contingency plan in the event of any technical issues is also crucial. This could include having a backup technology platform, a backup facilitator, and an extra set of the board packet to distribute.

Enhancing Board Member Engagement in Hybrid Meetings

Enhancing board member engagement is crucial to the success of an effective board meeting, especially in hybrid meetings. Incorporating interactive elements and recognizing successes can go a long way in keeping board members engaged and motivated.

Incorporate Interactive Elements

An example of ways to engage remote participants with live voting during the meeting.

Interactive elements can significantly enhance board member engagement. Whether it’s live votes, polls, breakout sessions, or Q&As, interactive elements can keep board members engaged and focused.

Moreover, ensuring optimal audio and video quality for hybrid meetings can significantly enhance communication and collaboration, making the meeting more engaging.

Recognize and Celebrate Successes

Recognizing and celebrating successes can foster a positive team atmosphere. Whether it’s acknowledging individual and team accomplishments, recognizing milestones, or celebrating the progress made towards the nonprofit’s goals, recognizing and celebrating successes can be highly motivating for board members.

Moreover, hosting virtual celebrations and focusing on transparency can significantly enhance team spirit and motivation. After all, celebrating success is a motivating factor for continued effort and dedication.


In conclusion, hybrid nonprofit board meetings offer an innovative solution to the challenges faced by nonprofits in conducting board meetings. With careful planning, the right technology, and a focus on effective communication and engagement, hybrid meetings can be a success.

Remember, the success of a hybrid meeting hinges on the preparation, the technology, the communication, and most importantly, the engagement of the board members. So embrace the new normal and make your next nonprofit board meeting a hybrid one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hybrid board meeting?

A hybrid board meeting is when members of the board meet both in person and virtually, allowing for all participants to have a shared experience. This type of meeting is becoming increasingly popular as it allows for greater flexibility and convenience for all participants. It also allows for a more diverse range of opinions to be heard, as members from different locations can join the meeting.

What are meeting norms for hybrid meetings?

Meeting norms for hybrid meetings should include setting ground rules and promoting inclusivity and respect for everyone in the physical and virtual room, such as no multitasking or side chats, identifying yourself before speaking, and keeping cameras on.

These norms should be established at the beginning of the meeting and reinforced throughout. Everyone should be encouraged to participate and be heard, and the facilitator should ensure that all voices are heard. Additionally, the facilitator should ensure that the meeting stays on track and that the agenda is followed.

By following these guidelines, you are following these guidelines.

What are the disadvantages of hybrid meetings?

Hybrid events can be prone to uncertain connection issues, resulting in a disruptive experience for virtual attendees, leading to a demotivated audience.

This can be a major issue for meeting organizers, as it can lead to a lack of engagement and a decrease in the overall success of the meeting.

How do you host an effective hybrid meeting?

To host a successful hybrid meeting, ensure everyone is prepared by sending an agenda in advance, opening the technology early, and setting ground rules. Appoint hosts and moderators to help control the conversation, use technology effectively, and keep meetings short for maximum impact.

What should be discussed in a nonprofit board meeting?

At board meetings, nonprofit board members should focus on discussing decisions and strategic topics, rather than providing updates and staff reports. This will help ensure productive conversations that move the organization forward.

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