There is not a one-size-fits-all template when working with your board of directors (BODs), especially given the impact of the pandemic and not knowing what the future holds for the economy. This is why it’s important to customize and develop a strategic approach for your board’s unique needs. During BOD sessions, it’s important to keep board members engaged and interactive, learning and participating in conversations as you talk real scenarios while setting actionable goals to focus on long term success.

A few things to consider when preparing for a BOD session:

  • Do you have a diverse board to achieve diverse goals?
  • Does your chamber have written expectations for the board?
  • Are there written expectations of the board for the chamber?
  • How do the chamber and board rethink revenue generation?
  • Can the board tell the chamber’s story and its brand story?
  • Is our mission community-focused to drive us to be a chamber of the future?
  • Does our business model align with our mission?
  • Are our board and chamber viewed as strong leaders in the community?
  • How can you help your board members think strategically and with vision?

When planning for your session, think about the purpose and desired outcome. Also consider: Will there be issues, challenges, tough discussions, and/or new thinking needed? This will help you to determine whether or not an outside facilitator is warranted.

Keep these things in mind:

  • Strive for a professional facilitator, not a presenter
  • Think about specific elements you want the facilitator engaged in
  • Focus on the benefits of having CEOs/EDs engaged in the discussions
  • Remember the chamber’s budget when considering internal versus external facilitators

Here’s how my personalized facilitated sessions work: I help you identify key areas of focus for your organization then create a personalized interactive session for your board of directors—I have a depth of knowledge and experience in a variety of topics, so we’ll choose the topic most relevant for your chamber or organization based on its current situation, plans for growth, and critical areas needing development.

Most of my interactive sessions focus on some of these core areas for boards of directors:

  • Membership development
  • Board development
  • Partnerships and alliances
  • Brand and marketing
  • Budget and resource development (non-dues revenue)
  • Community workforce
  • Public policy and advocacy
  • A furthered variety of customized topics

Following our facilitated discussion, smaller break-out groups allow us to dive deeper into each area of interest and focus on actionable goal setting. Beyond these sessions, I also offer continued support through coaching calls to assist the chamber in creating an effective and sustainable one-page plan.

As you move into 2021 with clear goals and plans, reach out if it would be helpful to discuss a strategic board session for your chamber or organization.

The best part of my job is helping clients get to that next level of growth. Right now, chambers are seeing tremendous value in the dynamic work I do with their boards. Some of them have shared their experiences: “I have had the privilege of attending many training sessions where Shari has shared her skills of time management, member recruitment, marketing and everything in between.  She is well versed in the chamber and association fields and they are near and dear to her heart. For these reasons, when it was time for our Chamber to engage in a Strategic planning process Shari’s name was top on our list! Shari was fabulous to work with before, during & after the retreat. During our retreat we were particularly impressed with the participation she was able to inspire from the group – the board said, “we couldn’t have done this without her”.    Alicia Bermes, Executive Director Niles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Illinois

Shari Pash is the founder of Strategic Solutions for Growth, a training company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI.  Shari works with Chambers of Commerce, non-profit organizations, and associations in 27 states and throughout Canada. Connect with Shari to learn more about how she can help your organization.