By governance expert Mike Hudson
The way board members behave in meetings has a huge impact on the respect board members and managers have for each other. It is easy to spot participants who are not giving the meeting their full, undivided attention, reading board papers that haven't been studied beforehand or even reading papers unconnected with the meeting.
Laptops, smart phones and tablets have all encouraged participants to push the boundaries, allowing them to check emails, send texts or, worse, do other work.
Participants who think they are clever enough to engage fully with board debate and do other things at the same time should be acutely aware of the message they send to other participants - "this meeting is not that important to me".
In addition to being rude and disrespectful to other participants, such activities devalue the role of the board. The chair should establish an exciting agenda and set clear ground rules for behaviour.
Everyone should then give their undivided attention to both the content of the agenda and the process of reaching decisions. All charities need every ounce of board members' concentration to help them achieve their aspirations.