By - Sandi Webster

Beyond the Boardroom: Leveraging Virtual Advisory Boards in the Digital Age

So, you’ve heard of the term “Virtual Advisory Board,” but you’re still trying to wrap your head around it, right? Well, you’re not alone! In this increasingly digital age, traditional in-person board meetings are rapidly making way for their virtual counterparts. The concept might seem novel, but it’s incredibly significant and offers many benefits. Here is a comprehensive guide to what Virtual Advisory Boards are, their advantages, how to build one effectively, tools to use for seamless virtual meetings, tackling common challenges, and leveraging best practices. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery together!


Understanding the Concept of Virtual Advisory Boards

A Virtual Advisory Board, at its core, is a group of individuals who meet online to provide advice and support to an organization. They aim to offer expertise, generate strategic ideas, and give feedback on specific business aspects. The key feature here is the ‘virtual’ part – all meetings, discussions, and interactions happen online in a digital meeting space.


The members of a Virtual Advisory Board are often experts in their respective fields, with a wealth of experience that adds value to the organization. This diversity of ideas and perspectives can lead to innovative solutions and strategic initiatives that may not surface in a traditional boardroom setting.

The Benefits of Virtual Advisory Boards

If you’re still wondering why you should consider a Virtual Advisory Board for your organization, here’s why:

·         Greater Accessibility and Geographical Diversity. Being virtual, these boards break down geographical barriers, making it possible to include members from different parts of the world. This diversity enhances the pool of ideas and perspectives, thus driving innovation.
·         Cost-effectiveness. Virtual Advisory Boards eliminate travel and logistical costs, making them a financially attractive alternative to traditional boards.
·         Enhanced Engagement and Participation. With the flexibility of online participation, board members can quickly join meetings from wherever they are, resulting in improved attendance and participation.
·         Real-time Data and Feedback. The digital platform allows real-time data sharing and instant feedback, facilitating quick decision-making.
·         Flexibility and Scalability. Depending on the organization’s needs, the board president can adjust the size and structure easily and quickly.

How to Build an Effective Virtual Advisory Board

Establishing an effective Virtual Advisory Board can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With careful planning and strategizing, you can assemble a team of experts who can provide valuable insights and feedback to help steer your organization in the right direction. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

1.    Identification and Selection of Potential Board Members

Start by determining what kind of expertise your organization needs. What gaps in your knowledge base would you like to fill? Are there specific industries, markets, or business strategies where an external perspective could be valuable? Once you’ve determined the skills and experiences you need, you can begin to identify potential board members. Look for industry leaders, influencers, or experienced professionals who can bring unique insights to your business. Don’t forget to consider diversity in its many forms: professional background, industry experience, geographical location, culture, age, and gender. A diverse board will provide a broader range of perspectives and can lead to more innovative and comprehensive solutions.

2.    Structuring the Virtual Advisory Board

The structure of the board is another crucial element. Consider assigning a Chair or facilitator to guide discussions and maintain order during meetings. The other roles will depend on your specific needs and the skills of your board members. For example, some boards might benefit from having specific roles for finance, marketing, or technical advice. Clear role definition helps streamline communication and ensure all voices are heard, preventing one voice from dominating the conversation.

3.    Setting Clear Expectations and Objectives

It’s vital to ensure all board members understand their roles and the board’s goals. Set clear expectations for participation and communication, such as how often you expect members to attend meetings and how you’d like them to prepare and contribute. Also, establish clear objectives for what the board should achieve, such as providing feedback on a new business strategy, advising on market trends, or brainstorming innovative solutions to a problem.

4.    Encouraging Open Communication and Collaboration

Lastly, fostering an open and collaborative environment is key to the board’s success. Encourage board members to share their insights and feedback freely and ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute to discussions. Discussions can be facilitated by structuring meetings that encourage participation, such as including round-robin updates or brainstorming sessions.

Essential Tools for Successful Virtual Advisory Board Meetings

Several basic tools support Effective Virtual Advisory Board meetings:

  • Reliable and Secure Virtual Meeting Platforms. A reliable and secure virtual meeting platform is crucial to facilitate seamless online communication. Think along the lines of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.
  • Project Management Tools. These can help to organize tasks, deadlines, and workflow, keeping everyone on track. Asana, Trello, and are some examples.
  • Engagement Tools. To keep the board engaged, consider tools that facilitate interaction, such as virtual whiteboards, polls, and surveys.
  • Data Visualization Tools. Tools like Tableau, PowerBI, or Google Data Studio can present data in a digestible format.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Virtual Advisory Boards

Virtual Advisory Boards are highly beneficial but are not without their challenges. Let’s delve into how we can overcome these:

  • Addressing Technology Challenges. Not everyone may be tech-savvy, and some may face issues with connectivity. Ensure everyone has the necessary hardware, software, and a stable internet connection. Offering a quick tutorial or guidance can be helpful.
  • Ensuring Active Participation and Engagement. Not everyone might feel comfortable engaging in a virtual environment. To counter this, make use of interactive tools and encourage open conversation.
  • Managing Virtual Relationships and Communication. Building relationships virtually can be challenging. Create a culture of respect and openness, and ensure regular communication to build and maintain relationships.

Best Practices for Leveraging Virtual Advisory Boards

To make the most out of your Virtual Advisory Board, here are some best practices:

  • Regular Meetings and Follow-ups. Regular meetings help keep everyone engaged and focused. Ensure to follow up after each session with a summary of the discussion, next steps, and necessary documentation.
  • Inclusive Decision-making Process. Make sure every member feels heard and that we consider their insights in decision-making.
  • Continual Evaluation and Improvement. Regularly evaluate the board’s effectiveness and seek member feedback for continual improvement.

And there you have it – your comprehensive guide to Virtual Advisory Boards in the digital age! As you can see, these virtual platforms can offer many benefits to organizations willing to embrace them. The advantages are abundant, from geographical diversity to cost-effectiveness and improved engagement to real-time data. It’s about time we moved beyond the traditional boardroom and leveraged the potential of the digital age to maximize our organizational effectiveness.


Here’s to your successful journey toward implementing your own Virtual Advisory Board!


Dr. Sandi Webster is the CEO of Sandi Webster LLC, which supports business owners through coaching or forming advisory boards. Contact her at or 917-697-8218.