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Running an Effective Board Meeting: A Little Agenda Goes a Long Way

Robert M. DeNichilo in Board Operations on June 22, 2012

New York City

June 22, 2012

So, what can a condo or co-op board do to conduct meetings in an efficient manner that allows all the appropriate discussion to take place and lets the board consider its work in an orderly fashion?

Prepare and Stick to an Agenda

Planning and conducting an effective board meeting starts with a good meeting agenda. The agenda is the road map of the meeting, a useful and powerful tool to keep board members on topic. A good agenda will facilitate a smooth, efficient and effective board meeting.

Choose a Form of Parliamentary Procedure

There are many ways to conduct an effective board meeting. Some boards choose to follow Robert's Rules of Order, but boards generally have the ability to choose any form of parliamentary procedure. Utilizing parliamentary procedure assists boards in conducting businesslike meetings with official-sounding motions that require a "second" vote before all the directors vote either for or against an issue.

As a baseline, it is always helpful to have a standardprocedure. For example, if the board is deciding to hire a landscaping contractor (e.g., "Green Thumb Landscaping"), the board might use the following procedure:
  Board President: "Is there a motion to hire Green Thumb Landscaping?"
  Board member 1: "I make a motion to hire Green Thumb Landscaping."
  Board President: "Is there a second?"
  Board member 2: "I second."
  Board President: "Is there any discussion concerning this contractor before we take a vote?"
  Board President: "Since there is no more to discuss concerning this issue, I call for a vote. All those in favor say 'Aye'. All those opposed, 'Nay'.
  (Vote is taken among 5 board members: 3 Aye votes and 2 Nay votes.)
  Board President: "Motion passes."

Strict accordance with

Robert's Rules is not

the ultimate goal.

While most boards attempt to follow a form of parliamentary procedure, unless a board member is a parliamentarian who can ensure that Robert's Rules of Order are implemented with strict compliance, it is likely that the board is using a relaxed version. In any case, strict accordance with Robert's Rules is not the ultimate goal. Rather than worrying about whether board members are strictly complying with parliamentary procedure, directors should focus on conducting the board's business without attempting to preclude a director's votes for failure to strictly comply.
Create a Board Room Setting
While condo or co-op board meetings are not the same as government meetings, they are important events to ensure that your building is properly managed and that decisions which are important to the community are made and action taken. While they may often be run through an informal parliamentary process, a sense of informality can often create difficulties for a board when dealing with difficult issues, especially if the community is divided over an issue.
Remember to Always Keep Private Matters Private.
By adopting and sticking to an agenda, choosing a method of parliamentary procedure that works for the board, and creating a formal meeting room setting, a board will go a long way towards keeping meetings on track,orderly, and not lasting longer than needed to be to accomplish the board's job. This, in turn, will help the board effectively manage the needs of theassociation.


Attorney Robert M. DeNichilo, a partner in DeNichilo & Lindsley, is a member of the Community Association Institute (CAI) and regularly speaks at educational sessions for property management companies and board members. This is adapted from an article at his homeowners association blog, HOA Brief.

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