We’ve all been there. The association board meeting with upset, confused, and/or frustrated homeowners where homeowner input has gone on for an hour with no end in sight. The board meeting that has gone on for four hours, the directors are exhausted and are now making off-the-wall, albeit hilarious, suggestions in ways to finalize discussions in order to wrap up the meeting. The vendor in the corner who has yet to share his 15-minute presentation because “we haven’t gotten there on the agenda yet” after waiting for two hours.
And then there’s you, the association manager, silently thinking, “What went wrong here? We haven’t even gotten to the budget discussion yet. What. Went. Wrong!”
As an association manager, it’s our job to assist the board of directors in running their meetings efficiently. The number one question we hear from prospective board members is, “How much time do I need to dedicate to the board?” Four-hour monthly board meetings is not the answer they want to hear, my friend.
So how can you help get your boards on track? Here are a few tips and tricks that will help your boards run a more effective, well-organized meeting (and make you a superstar in their eyes!) in 2019:
- Timed Agendas — Stick to Them!
- A timed agenda is a great visual tool that the board can utilize, particularly during homeowner input and committee reports, to keep conversation rolling and make sure everything on the agenda gets accomplished. This is a great task for the vice president or member at large to assist with keeping track of time.
- Agenda Approval
- Send the drafted agenda to your board to review a week before the association board meeting. They can provide any additions at that time, which 1) doesn’t catch you off guard at the meeting and 2) helps update your timing for the meeting so the board is prepared with the anticipated start and end times.
- Adequate Packet Review Time
- In this busy day and age, board members should have a minimum of three days in advance of the meeting to review their board packets. This should allow adequate time for board members to read the information thoroughly, ask questions (which will save discussion time during the meeting), and come into the meeting with discussion points ready to go. This does not eliminate those certain board members that with no matter the lead time, will inevitably open their packets in front of you at the meeting table. Don’t be afraid to have that discussion with the board president or the director directly as proper preparation is to the advantage of everyone. If they don’t review the material in advance, how can they adequately contribute to the conversation?
- Homeowner Input
- Homeowner input is an important aspect of an association board meeting, as it gives owners a chance to ask questions and share feedback. However, in some cases this opportunity can get abused and can delay the meeting very quickly, pushing back all the other important business that must be addressed. By providing homeowners a 10 to 15-minute window at the start of the meeting, this will let them share their thoughts and allow the board to move on when the time is up. In many cases, discussion points are already on the agenda and can be deferred for additional discussion at that time. Do you have a shy or wary board who will not cut off the homeowner input section? Request that meetings begin with an overview of the agenda and specifically call out the end time of homeowner input so there are no surprises when input is called to close.
- Vendor Presentations
- Vendors love nothing better than to give their presentations directly to the board, and a great time to do so is at a board meeting when they know everyone will be present. What you want to avoid is keeping the vendor hostage for the entire meeting while you discuss homeowner concerns and accounts receivable. A tip is to schedule them first on the agenda before homeowner input, or if the board wishes to have them present mid-meeting, use your timed agenda to give the vendor an ETA for arrival. Be sure to provide them with their presentation window, or they too can inadvertently derail the meeting.
- Be Prepared
- You are the advocate for your board, so preparation on your part will also help the meeting run smoothly. Review your report ahead of the meeting, have your note pages ready to go, and any documents you may need as part of your presentation at hand. The dreaded day will come when your laptop battery dies mid-meeting and you don’t have your charger available. It’s not a bad idea to have a backup paper copy of your report handy in case of technical difficulties.
With a little preparation ahead of time and sticking to your time limits, these simple tips will help to create effective, efficient and successful board meetings. Your boards will love you for it!
For insights on annual meeting preparation tips, read this blog post.
(Photo credit: ciocci via Flickr cc)