How to Fire-Up Your Board’s Energy in 10 Minutes


Do you ever wish you could fire-up your board’s energy?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have all your board members enthusiastic and excited about their role?

Just think what you might be able to accomplish with a fired-up group of well-connected, passionate board members.

All of our consulting clients want and need fired-up boards – and this is our first step to make it happen.

The first step in engaging your board is to make sure their energy and enthusiasm are high.

I read once, that emotion is what will inspire action.  And reason leads to conclusions.

So touching your board member’s hearts emotionally is the best way to inspire them to take action on behalf of your organization.

Try this powerful mingle exercise:

Ask your board members why they care.

Every single board member has a reason they are serving on your board.

When they talk about why they care – it’s their personal story.  And, it’s an impact statement at the highest level.

It’s something they carry with them wherever they go.

And they always know that story, because it’s deep in their hearts. It often comes from a deeply personal experience with your organization’s mission.

This powerful, terrific Mingle Exercise asks your board members to share with each other their personal story of why they are serving on the board: why they think your organization’s work is important to them personally.

Board members just mingle around the room and share their own story with other trustees.

The Mingle Exercise has multiple objectives:

Not only does this give board members training and practice in an important messaging skill, but it also:

  • Gets the board members talking to each other.
  • Wakes up their passion and energy, and engages them in the cause.
  • Reconnects them with the reason they are taking the time out of their busy lives to serve on the board.
  • Builds a sense of camaraderie and closeness among the board members.
  • Adds some fun to their experience as board members.
  • Boosts their morale, and sets them up to take action.

Best yet, it is a team-building exercise, too.

I begin every single one of my “Easy Fundraising for Board Members” retreats with this exercise – and it never fails. People love it!

Here’s what to do.  Ask them this simple question:

“Why do you personally care about our organization?”

It’s a pretty unusual question because board members don’t often get a chance to talk about why they care.

They are too busy being efficient.  Think about it – in the interest of using their time wisely, we often don’t take the time to go deeper.

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? What speaks to them personally about our work?

2. Give them a few moments to write down some notes to themselves – what would they really say if given the chance?

3. Then tell them in just a minute we will ask everyone in the room to get up out of their chairs, find a partner, and share these thoughts with other board members.

4. Explain the exercise:

  • You’ll find a partner.
  • Introduce yourself in case they may not 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.

Be sure to manage the room so that you control when people change partners – otherwise it can be pandemonium.

It’s important to debrief when everyone is finished:

Ask these questions:

  • What was their experience like?  Let different people talk.
  • What did you hear that resonated with you?
  • What kind of energy did you feel?
  • Was this easy or difficult?

10 reasons I love the Mingle Exercise.

  1. 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.
  2. It’s informal way to launch a discussion about fundraising, or how they can help our consulting project.
  3. This generates excitement and fun. You’ll see people laughing and smiling. Board members actually enjoy themselves with each other.
  4. It’s a team building exercise that brings board members emotionally closer to each other.
  5. Board members learn from other board members.
  6. Board members love to talk to each other and they rarely get the chance in busy board meetings.
  7. It’s a great energy boost.
  8. It’s a refreshing shift away from boring board meetings.
  9. It’s the best morale booster I’ve ever seen.
  10. This is a terrific elevator speech exercise.

When they are re-inspired by their own passion for the cause, board members are now ready to go to work.

Because they get back in touch with the deeper issue of why they care, then they are much more ready to tackle the work at hand with vigor – and commitment.

I’ll bet that if you do this before a meeting, you’ll find that it’s one of the best meetings you’ve ever had with this group. We launch all our work with consulting clients with this exercise, as well.

Try it and post a comment here to let me know how it worked!