Awaken Your Board Members' Passion with this Powerful Exercise
Here's how I set up this most important conversation so that no one is self conscious or feels put on the spot. It's a casual "mingle exercise." Board members just mingle around the room and share their own perspective with other trustees.
How to set this exercise up:
1. Ask your board members what they would say if someone asked them why they cared enough to serve on this board. If they ran into someone at work or socially, what would they say?
2. Give them a few moments to write down some notes to themselves.
3. Then tell them, "In just a minute we'll ask everyone in the room to stand up, find a partner, and share these thoughts with their partner."
4. Explain the exercise:
- You'll find a partner.
- Introduce yourself in case he or she doesn't know you well.
- Then share your story.
- Each person should take about 30 seconds.
- I'll keep time and call out "Change partners!" when it's time to find another partner.
5. Then launch them: "Everybody up!" Have them stand up, find someone to talk to, and share their perspective briefly with four other board members, one after the other.
How to debrief when everyone is finished:
Ask these questions:
- What was their experience like?
- What were they saying?
- How were they being?
- Was it easy or difficult?
- Was it fun or awful?
- What did you learn from other board members?
I love this exercise for so many reasons. It's informal. It's fun. And it's remarkably productive on multiple levels:
- When the board members talk repeatedly about what sparks their enthusiasm for your organization's work, they are re-igniting their own passion as they speak.
- The board members also learn from other board members.
- They get great energy from the other folks in the room; and they enjoy themselves.
When you do this exercise, you'll be surprised by the excitement and fun that it generates. You'll see people laughing and smiling.