How to conduct a healthy, happy, and harmonious board meeting
In order to run an effective board meeting the board needs a plan and a clear purpose. Efficiency is key and creating a plan and sticking to it can achieve this. Generally, the requirements for a meeting can be found in the by laws or the articles of incorporation. If the documents are silent, the Florida Statutes provide default procedures. Consider the following elements and you’ll be well on your way to conducting a healthy, happy, and harmonious board meeting.
HHH (Healthy, Happy, Harmonious)
Notice requirements can be found in the by laws or the articles of incorporation. Absent that, the Florida Statutes provide the following guidelines:
- Regular board meetings must be posted in a conspicuous place in the community at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting, except in an emergency. If notice is not posted, notice must be mailed to each homeowner within seven (7) days before the meeting.
- Any meeting in which special assessments will be levied must be noticed within fourteen (14) days before the meeting. The notice must be mailed to each individual homeowner and describe the nature of the assessments. To be on the safe side, meetings in which assessments will be levied, even if not special assessments, should also be noticed within fourteen (14) days before the meeting.
- Any meeting intended to amend to use of a unit or parcel must also be noticed by mailing the notice to each homeowner within fourteen (14) days before the meeting.
A quorum is the required minimum of number of directors who must be present to conduct the meeting. The by laws or articles of incorporation will likely provide the percentage or number of directors necessary to conduct a meeting. If it is a membership meeting, the documents will provide the number of homeowners necessary to satisfy the quorum. If the documents are silent the Florida Statutes require %30 of the homeowners (voting interest) to satisfy a quorum.
It is important to respect members’ rights. Remember, the goal is to maintain a harmonious community, if board meetings become adversarial it will be difficult to stick to the agenda and benefit the members.
- Members have a right to speak for up to three (3) minutes on any item listed on the agenda. The board can regulate how member participation is conducted but the board cannot prevent a member from addressing an item listed on the agenda. Consult Robert's Rules of Order as a parliamentary guide if there are no governing documents or laws on the matter.
- Members have a right to record the meetings. This includes video and/or audio recordings.
Transparency is vital to maintaining an honest and trusting relationship with the rest of the community. DO NOT discuss board business outside of a properly noticed board meeting. Absent an emergency, the board should not be conducting meetings or making decisions in private.
You’re not doing anything illegal or unethical, so why run the risk of suit? Document everything! Create an agenda, and stick to that agenda throughout the meeting. Assign a director the task of maintaining meeting minutes. Meeting minutes should include the topics discussed (even those not on the agenda), attendance and decisions made. The meeting minutes should accurately reflect the meeting.
Finally, promote a healthy, happy, and harmonious community. Meetings should be conducted in a healthy manner, yelling will not make someone agree with you. If a member is too disruptive you have the right to remove the member from the meeting. Encourage community members to attend and make the meetings accessible. For instance, in a predominantly Jewish community, do not conduct meetings on the Sabbath. In a senior community, make sure the meeting location is handicap accessible. If many of the members have young children, provide games to keep the children entertained. Listen, and be understanding. Is there an issue that wasn’t on the agenda but many members wish to discuss? Try adding five minutes to the end of the meeting to address their concern.
Remember, if you find yourself running into trouble contact your association attorney. Some association attorneys will attend board meetings at your request.