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The Annual Meeting – A Productive and Effective Get Together
There are those who think the best thing about annual meetings is that they happen just once a year. There is the planning and preparation. And what if no one comes?
But, in fact, this is probably the most important event for condominium owners to attend. It is an opportunity for them to meet each other, participate in electing their leaders, ask questions and learn more about their association. It is a chance for the leaders – officers, board members and committee chairs – to let everyone know of their efforts and accomplishments. The annual meeting is required by the association’s documents – it only makes sense to make the most of it.
There are a number of things to think about:
Quorum. Without the required number of people in attendance, no business can be conducted. And let’s be real – there will be times when it is difficult to get that magic number there. What to do?
-Give plenty of advance notice. Be sure the official notice of the meeting is proper and clear. Post reminder notices in obvious places; use e-mail.
-Proxies count. Mail one to each owner with the meeting notice. Make sure the instructions for completing and returning the proxy are clear. Don’t be afraid to go after these; use e-mail, door- knocking or telephoning, using this opportunity to remind people of the meeting. Make it clear that the owner can choose who is to be the proxy holder; you just want the owner’s vote(s) to count.
-Try a social hour before the meeting or an interesting guest speaker.
Election of Directors. This is the main reason for an annual meeting. Make sure there are qualified willing candidates to vote for. Appoint a nominating committee to propose a slate. Pursue those who have served on committees, attended meetings or otherwise shown an interest in their association.
Don’t come to the meeting with no candidates in mind. You run the risk of having no one to vote for or of having to accept a volunteer who may not have the qualifications you need. Nominations from the floor of the meeting may, of course, be made.
Know ahead of time how ballots are to be handled, who will count the votes and how.
Agenda. The association’s bylaws may specify the outline of the agenda to be used. A complete agenda, including items to be voted on (if any), should be sent with the notice of the meeting. Some things to include:
–Financial Review – A good concise overview will do. Reading a lot of figures can put people to sleep. Provide the nitty-gritty with the notice of the meeting or on a handout given to attendees upon their arrival.
If the budget is to be ratified at this meeting, be sure everyone has a copy of this – with good explanatory notes – ahead of time.
–Committee Reports – Keep them brief but informative. If there is a lot to tell about a particular project, consider including a more detailed report with the meeting notice.
–Review of Past Year – This is the President’s chance to let everyone know the various things their Board considered and accomplished during the year.
–Minutes of Previous Meeting of Owners – If owners receive a copy of these with the meeting notice or at the door, they can be approved “as distributed”; no need to take the time to read them out loud.
–Owners’ Questions and Discussion – This is important. Owners want to be heard. State the rules of this format up front. How much time is being allowed for this? Is there a time limit for each person who wants to talk? There may not be time at this meeting to solve major issues, but let the owners know your process for following up on their concerns – and then do it.
Be sure the agenda is not too ambitious. A 90-minute meeting is great – and never more than two hours.
The key to a successful meeting is careful planning and preparation. Good information to owners in advance of the meeting, thoughtful reports, a reasonable agenda and a well-prepared and effective president will all go a long way to make it happen.
By Toyan Copeland, PCAM
Co-owner of The Copeland Group, LLC.