Advance preparation and planning ensure successful and productive association meetings. Organizers should strive to make meetings orderly and business-like, but avoid excessive formality as it can intimidate members and discourage attendance.
Organized meetings set the tone for all future board work. Board members come away from these meetings knowing they have performed their duties with confidence about how to proceed on future projects. Here are just a few tips to help the association president run an effective board meeting.
- Publicize the meeting in advance. Notify the members in advance through the newsletter, e-mail, snail mail, or announcements posted in the common areas.
- Give board packets detailing topics to be discussed to the directors in advance. Send such information at least one week prior to any board meeting. By giving the board plenty of time to review pertinent material, they can make informed decisions at the meeting.
- When possible, always conduct the meeting at the same place and time. The place and time at which the board conducts the meeting will greatly influence the directors' productivity. Evening meetings work well for many associations, since both working and nonworking members can attend easily. However, some board members and managers claim they accomplish more at early morning meetings where there can be less distraction and more focus. The meeting place should be easily accessible, well lit, and comfortable in temperature.
- Begin with an agenda and allot specific time periods for each matter of discussion. The agenda is the core of every effective board meeting. An agenda expedites meeting business and usually addresses a monthly financial report as well as committee and manager reports. The Secretary or President of the association should post the agenda on a bulletin board or other common area where members are likely to read it or perhaps send it out electronically. Understanding association issues encourages members to attend board meetings.
- Use the agenda to set goals. Outline board meeting goals or objectives in the agenda. These may include future business and actions being proposed. For example, the board president may set goals to:
- hear comments from the homeowners
- dispatch old business
- consider new business
- take final action on a contract
- consider tax and personnel issues
- Avoid surprises. Surprises at a board meeting can be embarrassing and disheartening to both the directors and the members. To avoid unpleasant surprises, contact key members before the meeting to inquire about any potential problems and to start the resolution process early. This call will also remind other board members of their responsibilities so they too can better prepare. Reports to be discussed should be in writing and always given to board members a few days prior to the scheduled meeting.
- While never inviting it, always be prepared for controversy. If the board is addressing a controversial topic, it should plan to discuss it toward the end of the agenda. This way, other routine business can be promptly concluded which allows for those observers with concluded business to depart whenever they prefer.
Remember, time is precious for volunteers of any association. Proper planning can assure efficient and productive meetings for those who give so freely for the betterment of their community.
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