In my last blog, Drafting an Engaging Agenda, I shared some best practices to ensure your Customer Advisory Board (CAB) agenda includes the right mix of content to be valuable to the internal team as well as customer attendees. This blog will focus on another important element of agenda planning - how to structure the content for a logical flow of the meeting agenda.
There is a real art to properly structuring a CAB agenda. At times, it reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle – trying to fit all the pieces into just the right spot. Here are six elements, and the flow of those elements, to include for a winning CAB agenda:
- Welcome the Members - the executive sponsor should kick-off the meeting with a welcome and thanks to the members for joining the Advisory Board.
- Set the Stage - your first session should be a strategy update including any new issues the company is addressing. This is also a good time to provide a report on progress made, including any between-meeting work with members. This opening/strategy should last about 30-45 minutes, with another 15-20 minutes for Q&A (total of 45-60 minutes).
- Get the Members Talking - after the strategy update, plan a session that gets members talking. For example, you could solicit "hot topics" from the group and have them vote on the most compelling ones. Tee-up a few key questions on those and allow the conversation to flow.
- Consider Breakout Groups - this is another way to get members talking. Consider dividing the group into smaller breakout groups. Each could tackle a different “hot topic.” Leave time at the end to bring the groups back together and have 1-2 members from each group report back so everyone can benefit from the discussions. Breakout discussions usually go 45-60 minutes with 15 minutes at the end for sharing feedback.
- Allow Plenty of Time - don't try to squeeze too many sessions into the agenda. The beauty of an Advisory Board is the input from the members and the opportunity to hear the "voice of the customer." A feedback session should be 45-60 minutes; for deeper dives, 60-90 minutes. Spend the first 5-10 minutes for the introduction (explanation of topic) and review the key questions. The remaining time should be spent listening, probing, etc
- Give Generous Breaks - your customers are busy executives who have taken time out of their schedules to participate on your CAB. Be sure to sprinkle breaks in the morning and afternoon so they have a chance to check emails or make a few calls. Stay on time, consider giving an extra 15-30 minutes at lunch, and try to allow 1 1/2-2 hours between the last session and dinner.
When structuring your agenda, be sure to “mix it up” – alternate breakouts and full-group discussions, and consider including a member case study or a panel discussion on industry trends/issues. A variety of formats will keep the energy level up and members will stay more engaged.
We've helped many companies including HCL, Springer, AmerisourceBergen, Savvis, Autodesk, LexisNexis, and more, create winning agendas using these methodologies. Structuring your agenda using these elements ensures good meeting flow and will keep members actively involved in conversations!