7 tips for more productive community and board meetings
HOA meetings are a necessary evil. Communities are required to have a certain number of board and general membership meetings every year, but few enjoy them. There are ways to make the experience less painful, while accomplishing a lot on behalf of the community. VendorSmart offers meeting tips that will help HOAs manage their time, facilitate communication, and keep adequate records.
Top complaints about HOA meetings
Everyone likes to complain about HOA meetings. Actually, people gripe about most association meetings, no matter what the organization happens to be. The criticisms seem to be applied across the board, whether it’s an HOA, a non-profit organization or the board of a for-profit company.
- Leaders failing to prepare for the meeting
- Poor leadership
- Lack of knowledge about rules and protocols (on the part of residents and board members)
- Ignoring rules and protocols
- One or two people who dominate the time and do all the talking
- People with agendas
- Poor communication
- Breaches in confidentiality
- Lack of follow-through on assigned tasks
- The same topics are discussed endlessly with no resolutions
With these common criticisms of HOA meetings in mind, what can managers do to cut down on these problems?
7 HOA meeting management tips
1. Prepare in advance
Board members should stay on track by going into the meeting with a plan. Organizers really can’t “wing it” and expect to get anything accomplished. Prepare an agenda of all the topics that need to be discussed and make sure it is distributed to all concerned.
In most states, HOAs are required to post meeting agendas beforehand. Regardless of state regulations, the meeting will go more smoothly if everyone knows what is expected at the outset.
If management is not sure what to include in the agenda, it should review the minutes from the last meeting to see which topics require follow-up discussions. For example, if someone was tasked with collecting bids to repaint the clubhouse at the last meeting, the board might need to review the bids this time. It should also make note if it will have to vote on important matters, such as approving a budget or renewing a vendor contract.
2. Distribute all information beforehand
If the board (or membership) needs to review contracts, study a report, review data, or vote on an important matter, it should include that information well in advance of the meeting. Managers should also bring extra copies the day of the meeting for those who “forgot” to read the materials. This way the board (or membership) can come prepared to discuss the matter and make a decision.
3. Invite participation – with limitations
Of course everyone should get a chance to voice his or her opinion, but the meeting leaders should try to keep discussions from continuing excessively. The dialogue is more likely to get lost on a tangent and never return to the topic at hand. A good rule of thumb is to set a time limit when it comes to discussions.
4. Stay on track
Speaking of time, organizers should be mindful of the clock. It’s easy to become engaged in pointless discussions that do nothing to help the group come to a decision. People can quickly lose focus and may tune out completely. The meeting should stick to the agenda and establish a time limit for each item.
5. Be prepared for hard questions
Sometimes meetings can become contentious, especially if the group is discussing topics such as HOA dues or controversial rules. The managers probably have a good idea of the questions or pushback they’re likely to get, so they should prepare their responses ahead of time. They can create flyers or a PowerPoint presentation to answer the most likely questions.
6. Keep your cool
No matter how angry people get, board members should try to maintain calm. They may even need to take a break to regroup if matters seem to be getting out of hand. Once harsh words start flying, it can be difficult to get back on track.
7. Follow guidelines regarding meeting minutes
HOAs are required to keep minutes of all board and general meetings. The minutes need to be made available for any member to review, so personal or confidential information should be excluded.
Meeting minutes should include:
- Date/time of the meeting
- Who was present (board members, general members, guest speakers, community manager, etc.)
- Approval of previous meeting minutes
- Financial report (money in the bank, funds spent, budget matters, etc.)
- Any motions that were presented, by whom, and who seconded the motions
- Results of any votes
- Any actions that were taken or agreed upon for future meetings
- Resolution of ongoing or unfinished business from previous meetings
- Any new business that was discussed
- Open discussion
- Date/time of next meeting
- Time the meeting was adjourned
States typically have guidelines regarding how long meeting minutes should be saved. In some cases, they need to be saved as long as the organization exists. Successful HOA meetings require careful planning and management. Use these tips to help you stay on track and accomplish the business your community needs. If you need assistance managing service providers, VendorSmart can help, including finding a vendor, managing bids, and documentation verifications. Contact us to get started.