How to make meetings fun again

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Meetings are NO fun!

And not having the meeting minutes before the meeting makes the meeting even less fun.  Directors of nonprofit organizations, condominiums and homeowner associations attend a lot of meetings.  Directors usually attend at least one meeting every month but admins and property managers attend many more than that. 

Attending board meetings is a key part of a director’s job, but I doubt many directors would say that attending meetings is fun. Meetings are not fun when they run over time, lack focus, have no agenda, or are a waste of time.  On top of all this, the requirement to have minutes adds considerably to their aggravation.

Meeting minutes are NEVER ready

Nearly every director I talk to complains about the same thing. The meeting minutes are never ready for review until just before the next meeting.  Annual Meetings (AGs) or Annual General Meetings (AGMs) are even worse.  Owners do not see the draft minutes until just before the next AG or AGM. This is months or even a year after the meeting took place.

Condo boards are required to document decisions made during board meetings in their minutes but the law does not set a timeline for getting draft minutes ready for review.

We don’t remember what was said

Meeting after meeting, and despite the good intentions of well-meaning volunteers serving as the recording secretary the minutes never get done on time.  Some took copious notes with a pen and paper but then found it took a lot of time to transcribe the notes.  Some took the minutes director on a laptop, but this also proved slow. It is hard to fire a volunteer, so boards remain stuck in a continuing pattern of “non-completion.” Frustration grows and the fun factor declines.

Never during my terms as a director did I have the draft minutes within two days after the meeting, which I would consider to be a timely goal.  Getting them done several weeks after every meeting meant it was hard to remember what was said, even harder to remember any decisions made and almost impossible to remember who was going to follow up on an item.

There is a better way

A much better way . . .

BoardSpace got built.  When I became the recording secretary, in addition to being the president it  was so much easier to do a better job and have the minutes ready for review within 48 hours after a meeting.  Using BoardSpace made it possible to meet the goal I had set.

The key is preparation. Being prepared takes two things; (1) a mindset change and (2) the right technology.

Mindset Change

Get every one to agree that minutes will be ready for review within 48-hours after the meeting ends.  Once you have setup your BoardSpace, the fun begins. Preparation means getting ready for every board meeting a week in advance.  The manager’s report provided me with the details of discussion items so I could create agenda items and add short summaries, along with draft motions. Anything that came up in our emails in between meetings also got added.  I started the meeting with an almost completed draft of the minutes and added additional details during the meeting.

Taking meeting minutes using a computer is much more fun and faster.

Project to a screen

It also helped to project the minutes on a computer monitor so that the directors could see how their comments and decisions were recorded and point out any errors or omissions immediately.  The next day, I made minor edits and then distributed for comments.  It was so much easier to finish my minutes when I could remember what had been said.

It took me a few meetings to perfect this approach, but at my last board meeting, I finally did it:  I got the draft minutes ready for review only a day after the meeting.

Stop thinking about minutes as a nuisance!

Since minutes are a mandatory legal requirement, we may as well have accurate ones and make it worth the effort.  Accurate minutes stand up much better in court, in case there is ever a dispute.  And can also be used to communicate the organizations or condo’s history to current and future directors and owners.

Instead of thinking about minutes simply as a nuisance, with a little organization and planning, they can be a really useful tool. For myself, meetings are fun because I can engage without stressing over note-taking. My favourite part of BoardSpace is dragging tags onto documents and I love engaging with motions, assigning actions on the go and knowing that I don’t have to stress over reminding directors and managers to get their assigned tasks done. The software does that for me.

Start thinking of meetings as fun

Being a director is hard work but it can also be a fun. Your efforts contribute in a meaningful way to your community.  Using technology that works for you and not against you, and changing your mindset, directors can have some fun at next board meeting.

How do you make meetings fun again?  Any suggestions?  Tweet your suggestions to @boardspaceinc

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