It’s a new year, and that means a new round of board meetings. Since the Davis-Stirling act requires that HOA board meetings take place, you might as well take part in achieving the best and most successful meeting possible.
HOA board meetings are a golden opportunity for community members to know the issues that impact one of their most treasured investments - their home. The following six tips for meetings can help.
1. Communicate Before, During, and After the Meeting
It's required by the Davis-Stirling Act to notify the HOA board and association members of the meeting four days in advance. Use this notice to set the stage for your HOA board meeting. Be sure to include the agenda and the rules for participation (such as time limits for discussions).
In “7 Habits for Highly Effective Meetings,” the writer recommends “Prewiring.” It can be used to rally your HOA board members in advance to increase your chances of success when decisions must be made. While this may be impossible for every single member, it is possible to contact board members by phone to assess opinions and gain support for agenda items.
However, it's important to keep in mind that there should not be pre-meeting communication (or any communication before or following a meeting) where a quorum of the Board is communicating outside of a properly noticed Board meeting.
Then, practice the art of follow-up. Well-documented notes with plans of action will demonstrate results for your HOA board and members and could encourage them to participate the next time.
2. Manage Expectations
Explain the protocols for your HOA board meeting. Remind attendees that following the rules and the agenda will help keep the meeting productive, well-paced, and ending on time!
The “parking lot rule” helps keep members focused on the agenda, but also acknowledges important points raised by attendees of the HOA board meeting. When someone raises an interesting point that is off-topic, use a transitional statement that acknowledges their concerns but redirects the focus back to the meeting agenda.
At a non-emergency meeting it's actually prohibited to discuss items that were not published in advance on the meeting agenda, due to Civil Code §4930. You can offer to add their concern to the next meeting agenda.
3. Stick to the Agenda
Keep the meeting agenda document in front of you as a guide and encourage your HOA board and members to stay on topic and minimize interruptions.
Go through each agenda item in order. A best practice includes moving the important stuff to the top of the agenda when everyone is still fresh and focused.
Take notes and encourage the HOA board and members to do the same using their agenda as a template.
4. Use Tools to Increase Effectiveness
Don’t underestimate the power of a whiteboard, a large paper easel, or a chalkboard to accomplish better retention and to record ideas.
If there are documents to be reviewed by all, consider using a projector or TV screen.
Run your meeting by the clock. A timer is a great way to limit discussions and clearly delineate the structured time.
These things work and help your HOA board and members to absorb the information in the way that works best for them.
5. Get Decisions Made by Focusing on Results!
Here are some steps for helping the board to make decisions by focusing on results.
Set a time to discuss the many options, but then reach agreement on the two main options. That’s it. After due diligence, your HOA board can agree to the final solution.
Streamlined decision-making will help your HOA board and members appreciate the quick and focused process. The final result may take a few meetings to complete, but each meeting will be shorter, and you’ll get more accomplished.
6. Get More Members to Attend
Make members feel appreciated. Appreciation can be as simple as a note thanking them for attending or a homemade cookie handed out as members leave. Gestures matter.
Always leave them laughing! A great closing line or relevant comic strip to adjourn your meeting is a fun and memorable way to close.
Running effective meetings can be challenging, but is essential to creating a productive environment for HOA board members and owners. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the duties of running these meetings, consider hiring an HOA manager. They can reduce the burden and help keep your meetings running smoothly.