Usually we talk about how to handle the tough stuff that may come up during homeowner meetings.  This month, we’ll talk about the easy stuff: how to avoid “rookie mistakes” — oversights that new or inexperienced meeting chairs often make.  Keep this list with you and you’ll be more confident and professional while you preside over your first meeting.

Parliamentary Tip: 
Here’s a list of common rookie mistakes and the best way to avoid them:

Rookie Mistake Tip
Failure to start on time Even if everyone isn’t signed in yet or you’re not ready to formally start the meeting, stand up at the start time to announce what’s going on and when the meeting will start
Failure to check for a quorum Write the quorum requirement on your agenda or script, and announce “We have a quorum” once you know for sure
Failure to allow discussion on a motion Assuming it’s a proper motion, restate it, then ask “Is there any discussion?” before calling for the vote
Failure to call for the “no’s” If you asked the questions “All in favor?” then you must end a vote by asking “All opposed?” even if it seemed unanimous
Allowing someone else to dominate the meeting As the chair, you’re in charge unless you give someone else permission to speak
Failure to follow the agenda If you have to change the agenda, say so, then stick to the ameded agenda.  Don’t  just skip from topic to topic
Allowing conversations between members or discussions off topic Say “Let’s take one person/thing at a time”, then acknowledge whoever has your permission to speak, or what topic is being discussed
Becoming defensive Relax, listen with empathy, and say “Thank you for your feedback.”  Your role is not to answer every complaint, but to make sure every member has the opportunity to be heard, and to vote
Becoming confused Yes, a lot may be happening during a big meeting.  If things start to get complicated, call for a short recess to get yourself organized
Failure to listen Homeowner meetings are wonderful opportunities to learn what your members think and what’s happening in the community.  Listen, take notes, and follow up after the meeting
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