By Ashley Dietz Gray / Published November 2023
In an era where collaboration is crucial, how board meetings are executed plays a pivotal role in the community’s overall harmony and productivity. Drawing from Campbell’s top property managers, who average 12 years’ experience in property management, we have put together nine steps to an effective board meeting. This comprehensive list can be used to enhance your board meeting experience.
1. Advance Preparation
The adage “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” couldn’t be truer for board meetings. Detailed board packages, encompassing all necessary documents, should be sent out well in advance. By doing so, directors and officers are afforded ample preparation time, leading to more insightful contributions during the meeting. Moreover, a pre-meeting chat between the meeting chair and the property manager can preemptively address potential areas of contention, ensuring smoother discussions.
2. Equip the Venue
In today’s digital era, members, especially the migratory snowbirds, often participate remotely. While impromptu solutions like a cell phone on speaker mode may seem convenient, they compromise audio clarity. Enter Bluetooth speakerphones. Devices such as the Jabra Speakerphone are engineered for group interactions, offering unparalleled clarity. If video is available, then an “Owl” can be key in making it happen—one product, three functions: 360-degree video, speaker, and microphone for group meetings.
3. Set Time Constraints
Respect for time is mutual. To keep meetings productive, establishing and adhering to time limits for every topic is crucial. This ensures balanced participation from all members and prevents the meeting from drifting into overtime. In an ideal world, a board meeting shouldn’t extend beyond an hour. Beyond this point, attention wanes and productivity plummets. Sticking to this timeframe requires stringent planning and a commitment to the agenda.
4. Lay Down the Ground Rules
Setting the tone at the outset is the meeting chair’s responsibility. This involves laying down clear expectations and guiding principles for the meeting. Simple tools like a gavel can be remarkably effective in managing the meeting’s pace and maintaining its decorum.
5. Adhere to the Agenda
A well-defined agenda is the roadmap to a productive meeting. Every item, from financial reports to community events, should be discussed in a structured manner. Staying on track not only ensures all topics are addressed but also minimizes the risk of the discussion spiraling off course. The president, as the conductor of the meeting, holds the responsibility of designing the board agenda, usually with the valuable input of the property manager. This isn’t just a list of items to discuss; it’s a strategic document that gives direction and structure to the meeting and must be followed. Remember, discussing topics that are not on the agenda is inappropriate as well.
6. Facilitate Resident Participation
It’s essential to remember that a board meeting isn’t a town hall; it’s a strategic session for board members to deliberate and make key decisions. While owners have the right to observe, the primary focus should be on board members’ discussions and decisions. To ensure meetings are effective and to prevent them from becoming unmanageable, the board needs to set guidelines on when and how residents can participate.
7. Follow Robert’s Rules (within reason)
At the heart of structured and efficient board meetings lies a timeless guide: Robert’s Rules of Order. This framework provides a comprehensive set of codes and rules of ethics that not only ensures orderly conduct during meetings but also guarantees that every voice, be it in the majority or the minority, is heard. Such an inclusive, orderly approach is particularly essential for non-profit boards and committees, where collaborative decision-making forms the core of their functioning. But don’t over-complicate the process. The main components of Robert’s Rules that you need to use are the following:
• Structuring the agenda
• Opening and closing the meeting
• Recording and review of minutes
• Handling motions and votes
• Managing discussions.
8. Maintain a Positive Atmosphere
In condominium or homeowner associations, maintaining a positive atmosphere can be a challenge, especially in the face of divergent opinions. Boards should try and find common ground, compromise, and when possible, sort out disagreements behind the scenes and present a united front during public meetings.
9. Minutes, Not Transcripts
The essence of a meeting lies in its decisions, not its discussions. Minutes should only detail when and where the meeting started, who was present, the outcomes of votes, and how the meeting concluded.
A board meeting is more than a routine assembly; it’s a confluence of diverse ideas aiming to achieve communal objectives. By adhering to this guide, not only will your meetings become more structured and efficient, but also they’ll foster a sense of community, collaboration, and mutual respect.
Ashley Dietz Gray
VP Marketing, Campbell Property Management
Ashley Dietz Gray has been handling the marketing at Campbell Property Management since 2013. She is a native Floridian who shines at building relationships and getting things done with a positive attitude. Ashley graduated summa cum laude from Florida Atlantic University with her bachelor’s in communications. She has always believed “knowledge is power” and has made it Campbell’s mission to offer free education through in-person events, webinars, and their blog, Florida Association News (FAN), to board members and property managers of condominiums and HOAs throughout Florida. Ashley has worked hard to spread the word about FAN, which currently has over 18,000 subscribers. To check out FAN and access all of Campbell’s past and upcoming webinars, visit ReadFAN.org. For more information, call 954-427-8770, email contact@CampbellPropertyManagement.com, or visit www.campbellpropertymanagement.com.