Education & Government
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Jill Holtz
Content Strategy Manager

Enhancing trust and efficiency: Mastering public meeting management

August 16, 2023
0 min read
public meeting management

Public meetings are an incredibly important part of what public sector organizations do. Meetings create direct channels of communication with advisory groups and engaged citizens, and they are a crucial opportunity to demonstrate efficacy and transparency to the communities the organizations serve.

Although managing and preparing for these meetings comes with challenges, employing best practices and the right technology can dramatically simplify and enhance the process. Without these best practices, building agendas and managing these public meetings can become a major source of logistical pain.

This article details how public sector organizations can make meeting prep a dream instead of a nightmare with some high-level strategies and specific technical recommendations to streamline your preparation.

Revisiting and updating best practices

Strengthening your board’s meeting preparation begins with establishing and aligning on a set of best practices. These five best practices will help streamline your public meeting management process:

  1. Demonstrate order and adherence to procedure. Create and disseminate rules that guide meetings. Make sure the person leading meetings is familiar with these rules and capable of managing citizens who (intentionally or otherwise) step outside them. A skilled facilitator goes a long way in making sure everyone is heard.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Build out an agenda and distribute it to both board members and interested citizens at least a week in advance of the meeting. Place a premium on detail: people will want to walk away from reading your agenda with a thorough understanding of what they can expect from the meeting.
  3. Make the most of committees and working groups. For substantial and/or recurring issues, create committees or working groups responsible for tracking and presenting on new developments. This accomplishes two things: it makes sure the issue is getting the deep attention it requires, and it demonstrates this intention to the public.
  4. Apply your preparation ethic to post-meeting activities. Don’t drop the ball once the meeting’s over. Post minutes promptly post-meeting for better transparency and compliance. Ensure that your meeting minutes comply with all applicable regulations and timeline requirements.
  5. Leverage meeting management technology. Need help with any of the previous four best practices. You’re not alone. The good news is that Diligent has been creating and refining board management software for over twenty years. For more on how technology can empower your board, skip down to the “Embrace board management software” section.

Ensuring transparency in school boards and local governments

Transparency is more than a buzzword — it’s the secret to material usefulness in the world of public service. School boards and local governments that operate without sufficient transparency risk losing touch with community needs and damaging the sense of public trust that helps their policies to take full effect.

This emphasis on transparency is often codified by law, as is the case with “sunshine laws” in numerous states. Sunshine laws lay out standards for school boards and other government entities regarding public access to information, and they provide a great deal of direction as to how meetings should be conducted.

Make sure your organization is practicing robust communication with your community. Provide the public with notice of the time and place for regular meetings. For special meetings, provide information as far in advance as possible. Make pre- and post-meeting materials (agendas, minutes, etc.) available to the public.

Board management software makes this process simple. More importantly, it makes key information accessible to community stakeholders and enables maximum transparency using the power of technology.

Embrace board management software

The right technology solution can support your organization by providing a simplified means of connecting with your community. Once cumbersome processes full of tedious logistical details, meeting management and agenda preparation are now simple tasks with a wide reach.

With software like Diligent Community and BoardDocs, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, policy manuals, strategic plans, goal information and orientation resources can be uploaded and distributed to stakeholders regardless of device or location. Needless to say, this has a profound impact on the board’s ability to demonstrate transparency.

These technological improvements do more than add an extra layer of convenience to your meeting prep. They make it infinitely more likely that your organization has the time and bandwidth to tackle the issues that truly matter to your community. In other words, they’re the secret to your organization’s success.

A public board playbook for digital governance

AI is just one of the digital technologies completely transforming modern governance for public boards of nonprofits and mission-driven organizations.

A new Diligent guide gives public boards in education and government a definitive playbook for navigating governance in the digital era — including how to leverage new tools like GAI to enhance board operations and make smarter, faster decisions; and how to incorporate digital communication tools to connect with digital-native communities, all while staying on the right side of tightening data security regulations.

Download the digital governance playbook here.


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