Meetings are an important part of your association life, as it is necessary for board members to gather to discuss important HOA business, including future plans and current financial needs. Critical though they may be, meetings may not always feel pleasant or productive—especially when they drag on for well over an hour. Indeed, it is no surprise that one of the questions we receive most frequently is that of how meetings can be shortened—and while there is no one magical solution here, there are certainly some basic tips and pointers you might try implementing.
- Start with the right expectations. If all board members arrive at a meeting feeling like it will probably last three hours, well, don’t be surprised when it does. There is really no reason for a board meeting to exceed an hour in length, so make it clear to all participants that this is the goal you’re shooting for.
- In keeping with the above: Announce at the start of the meeting when the meeting will adjourn.
- The best way to control meeting times is to schedule them down to the minute. Arrive at the meeting with a clear roadmap of where you would like the meeting to go—what items need to be discussed, which order you will discuss them in, and how many minutes need to be allotted to each topic. Provide each meeting participant a written agenda with the rough schedule of discussion.
- Try the technique of limiting each person’s talking time to five minutes—imposing brevity on all parties gathered for the meeting.
- Periodically ask if someone who hasn’t spoken would like to. While this may sound like it will take more time, it can actually be an effective way of cutting back on repetition.
- Remember that your HOA board meeting is all about action—not just discussion. Push for decisions to be made, not just for further and further conversation.
- If debate keeps going and going, check your association covenant agreements/by-laws to see whether you might make a motion to close debate. In many places you can do this with a simple majority vote.
Running an effective meeting is crucial to the healthy functioning of your board—and effective meetings are usually marked by their organization and their relative brevity. Keep this in mind as you plan for your next HOA meeting.