Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Turning Your Fellow Directors' Heads

In my blog post of October 30th below, I offered an excellent tactic, courtesy of Kent Thiry, on getting the best from your directors in a board meeting. Kent's tactic was one that the board chair might employ.

Here are three tactics that directors might employ to make their contribution to a board meeting more impactful. They are offered by Scott Ginsberg, a media and image adviser who has written several books on communications effectiveness:

Bite Your Tongue: Don't say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect your thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.

Come Out of Nowhere: When the meeting leader says, "Does anybody have any questions?" or "Any final thoughts before we finish?" you raise your hand and say, "I had an observation..." All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn't said anything all morning — you.

Articulate Your Ideas: This is the best part. See, if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What's more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you're thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in.

Ginsberg's tactics may not be right for every director or for the dynamics of every board. But one or two, or all three, may work well for you and your participation on certain of your boards.

I can't help but think that directors using some combination of the above three tactics along with the chairman employing Kent Thiry's "airtime metric" described below would result in one heck of a productive board session.