No two boards are ever the same. That variance and unpredictability can make it difficult to navigate your first meeting with a new board, despite your level of expertise. Whether you are a well-experiences Registered Condominium Manager or a newcomer to the industry, here are tips to successfully run your first board meeting.
Reach out earlier.
Your first board meeting should not be your first contact with the board members. Reach out to each and every one of them before the meeting. An informal setting where they can give you any insight on the group you're going to be walking into is extremely valuable. Taking them out (individually) for a coffee can be a great ice breaker. Not only do people love free coffee, but it will make the moment of addressing them all collectively at the meeting seem much less intimidating.
This sounds simple, but hear me out. At your first board meeting, it can be very easy to get wrapped up in every issue and documentation. Slow down. The more time you spend trying to get everything down, the less time you're spending actually listening to the board members. Look up, make eye contact, and be an active listener.
Create [a consistent] structure.
The easiest way to do this is to create a timeline for your meeting, sending them out with the other documentation prior to the meeting (at least 48 hours in advance is recommended), and sticking to it. Let everyone know in what order the schedule of topics will be. For future meetings, try to stick to the general schedule that you've used in the past.
Manage time effectively.
There are very easy things you can do to make a board meeting run better. This is one of the easiest. Pay close attention to time. Start your meeting on the minute, if possible. As this is your first meeting, you are really setting the tone for the future. If people are used to the meeting starting 10 minutes late, they'll start showing up 10 minutes late. No one wants that. And while we're on the topic of time, keep the meetings between 45 - 90 mins. Any longer and you'll lose interest and potentially future attendance.
Maintain the right tone.
Remember, this isn't meant to be scary. You haven't done anything wrong, and you're not on trial. Your job is to help in advising them for the future. Show them your vision and plans for the future and remember to take it easy. No one expects you to know everything right away. Keep your tone light and conversational, and avoid feeling the need to take a defensive tone. That's probably good advise for all of your board meetings actually...