Making Advisory Council Meetings Meaningful

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make with their advisory councils (and with their boards) is limiting them to a “monitoring” role. They bring well-intentioned volunteers together, fill the meetings with reports on this or that (monitoring), and then wonder why the volunteers don’t seem engaged, have spotty attendance, or descend into micromanaging.

Remember, volunteers want to do meaningful work. They didn’t join your advisory council just to listen. If you don’t engage them in discussions or work they perceive as having value, they will go looking for it, and you may not like what catches their interest. In the absence of something truly meaningful to consider or do, even the most mundane financial report will take on a life of its own with your advisory council.

Think of it this way…reports are about the past. The past can be instructive, but it is much more interesting to be considering and talking about the future.

Build the work of your advisory council, and each meeting agenda, around discussions of the future. Talk with them about what you want to do next and then get them involved in discussing potential strategies. They will bring energy to the discussion, and you will be maximizing the experience and knowledge of the volunteers around your table.

For more tips on engaging members of your board or advisory council, visit Starboard’s website: and check-out the blog section. Or, if you would like to talk with a member of our consulting team, contact us now.