Advisory board meetings are a very important strategic tool and are already part of the routine of several companies in the health sector, but for others it is still a novelty. For those who are still new to this activity, it is a meeting with experts to discuss and get advice on crucial points that aim to guarantee the success of the company, the project or the product.
After attending, participating and holding many meetings of this type, we decided to prepare a list of suggestions that will serve as a checklist and reflection for the more experienced, and guidance for those who are starting.
1 - Clear and aligned objectives maximize the outcome of the meeting.
It is important for the company, together with all departments involved, to establish clear objectives regarding the meeting. It must be aligned with everyone what will be discussed, why it will be discussed and what will be done with the results obtained. A brief alignment meeting puts everyone on the same page and avoids misunderstandings or false expectations.
2 - The time designated for the meeting must be precise.
It is important to have a good predictability of the time needed for the meeting, remember that in general the agenda of the specialists is busy. If time is insufficient, important issues will no longer be discussed, if it is excessive it can demonstrate weaknesses in the company's time planning.
But what would be the ideal time? It depends on the purpose of the meeting and the number of experts invited. Simpler themes, with fewer guests can be solved in 4 hours, others more complex, with a larger number of participants can last up to two days.
3 - Good participants will enrich the discussions.
When we talk about participants, we must consider external guests (specialists) and internal guests (from the company itself). Experts must have a thorough knowledge of the topic to be discussed, be representative, have extensive experience in the segment in which they operate, and behave neutrally in relation to other companies and products in the market. The specialist's role is to speak the truth, even if he disagrees with what the company would like to hear.
For the best performance of the meeting, the specialist should, if possible, receive the materials in advance to better prepare for the discussion.
Regarding internal guests, they must be only the extremely needed ones, a large number of people in the company can intimidate the experts.
4 - The meeting facilitator can make a difference.
The facilitator is the person from the company, or contracted by it, designated to conduct the meeting. He/she will present the case to everyone, ask the questions that were previously defined in the alignment meeting and others that are necessary to better clarify any question. They will be responsible for the entire process of extracting ideas and thoughts and for ensuring a friendly and productive atmosphere among the participants, as well as, controlling the time to ensure that the whole agenda is addressed. Much of the success of the advisory board meeting is in the hands of the facilitator.
5 - The logistical organization must be perfect.
It may seem less important, but in fact it is essential that the logistical organization of the event is impeccable. Experts must be 100% engaged in the meeting. Eventual logistical setbacks take away concentration, bring boredom, and sometimes tiredness; that can hinder the progress and outcome of discussions.
6 - Registering the meeting and its findings is important as a basis for the planning and decisions.
It is crucial that the meeting is duly registered and documented, so that you can base current and future decisions.
It is advisable to record the meeting on video or audio with the permission of the participants, and to build an objective document based on the main points addressed, responses and insights obtained. This document should be shared with everyone involved to align directions and decisions.
Well-executed advisory board meetings can make a difference in the success of a project or product, so it is worth focusing, planning and carefully implementing it!