Lumen Impact Group
Lumen Impact Group

Preparing for Meetings: How Planning Makes You a Team Player

Published: March 19, 2024

By: Amy Ruck Kagan, Senior Partner

Think back to that first school board meeting, the one that felt like a complete disaster. I remember mine and the feelings of fear and anxiety that took over. It was a mess—no structure, no direction, just a bunch of people talking in circles. I couldn’t help but wish for some semblance of order amidst the chaos. I found myself wishing that I never agreed to serve on the board if this was going to be the way that it operated and the time waste it appeared to be. 

That unproductive gathering highlighted the absolute necessity of preparation and organization. I spent far too much time trying to create the “perfect meeting”– one where it was well-planned, everyone knew what to discuss, and decisions were made efficiently. Drawing from these experiences, both personal and professional, I hope this post sheds light on how a lack of preparation can turn a meeting into a train wreck. I’ll help you see the game-changing impact of getting your ducks in a row before you gather around the table. Here are three principles of preparation that will help you manage meetings that leave you feeling productive, effective, and aligned as a team.

Strategic Meeting Agendas: A Blueprint for Success

An effective meeting starts with a strategic agenda. Your board meeting agenda isn’t just a checklist; it’s a strategic roadmap guiding your organization towards success. Every item on that agenda should be a purposeful step toward achieving your strategic objectives. Crafting it requires meticulous attention, ensuring alignment with your organizational goals and a sharp focus on measurable progress and results. It’s not just about what’s discussed; it’s about how each discussion propels your organization forward.

Advanced Distribution of Meeting Materials: Equipping Board Members

In the realm of effective preparation, timely distribution of meeting materials is your secret weapon. Think of it as gearing up for a crucial expedition. No one would set out without the right tools, and similarly, ensuring all board members receive essential documents well before the meeting is a non-negotiable. This proactive and time-saving approach empowers everyone to step into the meeting room well-armed with knowledge, fostering an environment where well-reasoned decisions become the norm.

Fostering Participation from Board Members: Valuing Diverse Insights

Your board is a powerhouse of diverse perspectives and expertise, and unlocking its full potential requires active participation from every member. When building your meeting content, actively seek input from all voices. Give every member the chance to share their insights, enriching the discussion with a variety of viewpoints. A well-rounded conversation isn’t just about quantity; it’s about tapping into the wealth of experiences within your board, ultimately leading to more robust and comprehensive decisions.

Mastering the art of meeting preparation sets the stage for success, but the real magic happens when you infuse thoughtfulness and care into the mix. Your team deserves more than just a well-prepared agenda—they deserve an experience that fosters collaboration and ignites productivity. In the next part of this series, I’ll propose new strategies to elevate your meetings from merely functional to norming and performing. Get ready to transform your board meetings into dynamic sessions where ideas are welcomed and decisions are made with the precision of a well-oiled machine. 


"Lisa did a fantastic job with our entire strategic planning team. Her process was beyond organized. As a new administrator, I was able to lean on Lisa for her expertise and knowledge of strategic planning. She did everything from meeting organization and to facilitating subgroups, focus groups and staff culture surveys. Her work with the school board and administrative team was respectful, while also filled with appropriate advice and constructive feedback. I could not imagine going through this process without Lisa. She will continue to be a trusted resource for years to come."
Jamie DeWitt
School Leader, NexTech High School
"Lumen Impact Group has been critical in supporting Bluum’s efforts in Idaho to manage our $17.1 million federal Charter School Program grant. As one of the country’s first non-profit organizations to receive federal CSP funding, the stakes for our work are very high, and our efforts to help open, expand and replicate public charter schools face scrutiny. I sleep better knowing Lumen Impact Group has worked closely with us to build our processes, procedures and playbook for managing the responsibility of directing and overseeing a significant federal grant. I highly recommend them to others. They are true pros."
Terry Ryan
CEO, Bluum
"As a family-owned and operated company, we needed to preserve our culture and define our mission, vision and values better as we grew. Lumen Impact Group helped capture a variety of diverse perspectives and hopes for the future in a way that connected everyone involved. Lumen Impact Group helped us create a clear strategic focus and for our future stabilized our culture. Lisa also coached our leadership team in supporting implementation."
Mark Smith
President, Krapohl Ford & Lincoln
"Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact provided invaluable support to Colorado Charter Facility Solutions during our start-up phase. I was the new non-profit organization’s executive director (and only employee at the time), and Lisa knew answers to questions that I did not even know to ask. She made sure the board of directors was set up correctly and that the organizational documents were in place. Lisa helped me establish the organization’s goals and ways to track progress. Lisa is organized, patient and kind, and worked quickly, thoroughly and collaboratively. She is a good listener and even acted as an executive coach/therapist at times. When necessary, Lisa can be direct, yet she is always focused on the goals of the organization and its success. I highly recommend Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact Group. "
Jane Ellis
Executive Director, Colorado Charter Facility Solutions
"I have worked with Lumen Impact Group at both the individual and organizational level. As a coach, Lisa has a natural ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and to ask questions that help her clients translate insight into action. Each team member who has worked with Lisa in a coaching capacity has demonstrated visible growth that has positively impacted individual and team performance. As an organization, we are trying to be purposeful about the culture we are creating, as a means of best fulfilling our mission. Lumen Impact Group has been a tremendous thought partner along the way and has facilitated critical steps in a collaborative yet efficient and fun way. Our team was in awe at how much we accomplished collectively in a short period of time. We are moving toward our ideal culture much more quickly than I thought possible, and I have no doubt it is because of Lumen Impact Group’s guidance. "
Kasey Miller
Chief of Staff, National Association of Charter School Authorizers