Considering a board meeting that is too brief will not cover essential details and a meeting that is too long will exhaust all members involved, it is crucial to find the right balance. 60 to 90 minutes is generally an ideal and reasonable goal for the majority of board meetings. Consider trying out some of the following tips to reach this time frame.
1. Avoid Agendas That Are too Ambitious
Beware of having an agenda that is overloaded. Issues that are high priority can require a solid chunk, sometimes as much as 30 minutes, of the meeting. If possible, try to focus on only one high priority issue per meeting. In some cases, it may be necessary for the board to meet more often in order to cover all of the issues.
2. Set the Room up Properly
Consider setting up the room for a board meeting rather than a town hall meeting. If the board is set up facing away from each other and towards the audience, it encourages audience participation even though the audience was not chosen to represent the issues. A semicircle shape allows the audience to hear the discussion while the directors talk to each other.
3. Show up Prepared
Good HOA management will prepare “board packets” prior to the meeting. This will assist directors in showing up prepared and will help prevent time from being wasted.
4. Respect the Open Forum
A meeting will run too long if the audience and board fail to use the open forum correctly. The board should avoid interrupting during the open forum and the audience should avoid interrupting the rest of the meeting.
5. Realize When Speaking Is Unnecessary
One of the key aspects of excellent HOA management is realizing when there is a consensus and a vote would be beneficial. A great board director will recognize when a motion is clearly underway and any further remarks are unnecessary.
6. Know When to Use Consent Calendars
The majority of routine decisions – non-controversial issues, assessment liens, routine bills – are best handled using a consent calendar. If a director desires discussion, the issue can be pulled from the consent calendar.
7. Do Not Force Unanimity
Excessive deliberation can result from too much emphasis being placed on unanimity. It is not legally necessary to reach unanimity. Unanimity is only important in regards to extremely important subjects that require solid support from the board.
8. Put Meeting Rules in Place
Enforcing meeting rules helps educate members on the procedures of the meeting, establish behavior boundaries, and reduce disruptive occurrences.
9. Utilize Committees
Any topics that are considered major can be evaluated, researched, and discussed by a committee prior to being recommended to the board.
10. Stay on Track
The Open Meeting Act specifies that only topics disclosed on the agenda may be discussed. Although spinoff discussions can be tempting, it is unfair and distracting to bring these issues up if members were unaware these topics would be discussed.