Advisory Board meetings are not for presenting

There’s an old expression that goes something like “the creator gave you two ears and one mouth and they should be used proportionately.” When it comes to your client advisory board, I would go even farther in favor of your ears.

Bringing together top clients a few times a year to give you feedback is a golden opportunity to gain insights about what it’s like to work with you and how it can be improved. And those opportunities are about two hours each. How much of that time should you invest in you speaking versus the clients?

In planning advisory board meetings, I often hear advisors comment “what I’d like to tell them is…” The best use of these meetings is not for telling but rather for listening. It is an ineffective platform for communicating. You will only have about a dozen clients there, no one else will be able to hear your message. More important, any time you talk during an advisory board meeting is more profitably invested in interacting rather than delivering. Presentation time and feedback time are mutually exclusive.

You will need to spend some time presenting. Discussion topics need to be set up. Ideally, board members will have received preparatory materials a week or so ahead of the meeting and most of them will have reviewed it. Still, they will need a refresher to bring the information back to their consciousness. They will need an opportunity to recall the thoughts they had when they reviewed it initially. So be thoughtful about how to give them enough to bring them back up to speed without spending more time than necessary.

Here are a few tips to help make sure you make the most of feedback time during your advisory board meeting:

  • For each agenda item, ask yourself “what do I hope to learn?”
  • Give board members enough information in their preparatory kit so you don’t have to fill in any gaps when you get to the meeting.
  • Plan what you will say to introduce each issue to process in the meeting.
  • Practice.
  • Time yourself to make sure you are not investing more time than you think to introduce topics.

Every minute clients are speaking in an advisory board meeting is golden. Help maximize the gold you collect through planning and being thoughtful about how much time you take versus how much you give to them.

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