Annual Condo Association meetings are one of the cornerstones of Association life. While monthly Board meetings might draw a handful of people, you usually will see a couple dozen at the annual meetings. Some Boards treat the annual meeting like a “check the box” activity, which is a huge mistake. Instead, your annual Condo Association meeting is an opportunity for Owner engagement and education. It’s a chance to recruit and gather momentum. The key is to structure the meeting so as to ensure it is an effective annual Condo Association meeting and not a mundane one.
1. Good Advertisement
The first tip to an effective annual Condo Association meeting is make sure you advertise the event efficiently. The fundamentals of communications apply, but you want to go even further. There are several things you can do to try to drum up attendance:
- Blitz everyone’s doors with door hangers or under-the-door messages. If you aren’t overusing this technique, this might get Owners’ attention where it normally would not.
- Offer food, free raffles, or whatever, to get people to show up. Make sure the raffle is at the END of the meeting.
- Consider putting something ominous or controversial sounding on the agenda – just to scare people into showing up. Be careful not to abuse this tactic, but if you can find a way to sneak something on there, you might scare up attendees. Just make sure you’re not facing a mob of your own making.
2. Make the Meeting Interesting
You know the person on your Board who likes to ramble endlessly, is a terrible speaker, and never knows when to shut up? You might want to find a way to make sure that Board member doesn’t speak. At all. Or at least as little as possible. You need to put your more charismatic people forward, and keep the meeting interesting and fast-paced. It doesn’t need to be a game show, but don’t bore the hell out of people. The best way to do this politely is to build a game plan beforehand, and make sure everyone knows who is talking and what the presentation strategy is.
3. Have a Meaty Agenda
If you want an effective annual Condo Association meeting, you need an engaging agenda. You want to make sure the time you’re spending with Owners is worth it for everyone involved. Here’s a good outline to follow:
- Thank people for attending. Make it clear you appreciate their involvement and giving their time to the Association.
- Give them updates on the MOST IMPORTANT things facing the community. If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s important, it’s probably not important. In general, stick with the top 3-5 things at most.
- Promote something interesting coming up – maybe CPR training, a movie night from your social committee, or a party. Nothing interesting coming up? Maybe you should fix that. This has the benefit of raising engagement and transferring a successful meeting into continued participation.
- Make a call to action for where you need help. This could be recruiting for Condo committees, feedback on critical issues, etc.
4. Give Owners Time to Speak
Finally, it is critical that you give Owners time to speak. The tone and purpose will vary depending on your Condo Association’s activities. If you’re in the midst of major projects or special assessments, it may be an opportunity for cathartic ranting (for Owners). For lower stress communities, it’s a chance to communicate with Owners who usually don’t show up – again, an important opportunity for engagement.
If the conversation is positive, make sure your Board encourages and rewards people who speak up. Thank them for their thoughts. Engage with them and challenge them to not just propose problems, but to help provide solutions – like by joining a committee.
5. Remember – It’s About Them – Not You
A good Board of Directors is representing Owners’ interests. An effective annual Condo Association meeting will focus on engagement and enthusiasm. It is a chance to make Owners informed, recruit them to help out, and make the Association a better place. Treat it like an opportunity, and not a burden, and you will reap the benefits.