Annual meetings can be valuable community events or dreaded functions that strike fear and anxiety into the hearts of the board members as if they are about to fight an evil untamed beast. Which type of annual meeting does your community have? If your annual meetings are the latter type, perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy and change your process.
Most communities whose annual meetings are unproductive, hostile, or out of control, lack one key factor: preparation. Preparation does not mean simply creating an agenda and rolling the dice. It includes much more.
Below are some tips that will help you get prepared for your annual meetings:
- Anticipate and practice responding to hard questions. After all, you know what the issues are in your community and what the naysayers will bring up. Why not prepare a written script allowing you to thoughtfully respond to each such question?
- Utilize a timed agenda. In other words, create specific timelines for the various components of the annual meeting to help move the meeting along.
- Review your conduct of meetings policy to ensure you understand the acceptable and unacceptable behavior described therein. Also, if the policy needs to be updated, make sure you update it before the meeting.
- Review the association’s governing documents with respect to meetings, elections, voting, proxies, etc. and know the requirements.
- If you anticipate a contentious meeting, consider retaining a parliamentarian to run the meeting.
- If you plan on discussing issues that the board does not fully understand, such as legal actions, insurance, or construction issues, request that an appropriate expert attend the meeting to answer questions.
Once you’ve done all you can do to prepare, you will also need to put your preparation to use during the actual meeting. You can do this by taking the following steps:
- Have copies of the agenda available to owners at the meeting.
- Distribute copies of the conduct of meetings policy to all owners in attendance and let attending owners know that the policy will be strictly followed.
- Stick to and follow the conduct of meetings policy.
- Build in enough time on the agenda for the owners’ forum. Let everyone have their say but be prepared to graciously and firmly move the agenda along.
- Stick to your agenda and keep on schedule with the timing.
- Make sure you designate a chair that is firm, not scared to cut conversations off, and move the meeting along. Although many believe the chair can only be the president, this is not accurate. The board president may delegate his/her duty to chair a meeting to another, whether a board member, parliamentarian, or other individual.
- Follow the requirements in the association’s governing documents and meetings policy.
- Give a brief but substantive president’s report, which covers:
o what the association accomplished over the past year,
o your goals for next year, and
o what is great about your community.
Properly preparing for your annual meetings and ensuring the preparation is utilized during the meetings will go a long way to helping your communities have productive, energetic, and timely annual meetings.
If you have any questions regarding annual meetings, please do not hesitate to contact a Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999.