Board Secretary – Board Agenda as a Time Management Tool

I have seen many different types of agendas in my 22 years of managing association from no agenda at all to the emailed agenda sent the day of the meeting or the agenda that’s delivered at the meeting.   Although I’m guilty of having prepared such agendas myself in the olden days, none are considered a Best Practice.

Delivery:  The agenda should be distributed well enough in advance of the meeting to give board members a chance to review it and request additions or changes.  3 to 5 days is a good rule of thumb.  This will give members a chance to advise the secretary if there are additions to the agenda and will give members a chance to prepare for the agenda item.

Timed Agenda:  The agenda heading should have the start and end time for the meeting and each line item should have a start and end time in order to communicate to members what is expected.  A member that needs more time for a line item should communicate this to the secretary well in advance of the meeting.  If it’s 6:20 PM and you’re still on an agenda item that was supposed to be finished by 6:05 PM then the chair needs to take some action.  Either table the issue and move on or ‘call the question’ and vote.

Agenda Approval:  The members have had a chance to review the agenda and time allocations in advance.  The chair opens the meeting and one of the first items is approval of the agenda.  Are there any additions or changes?  “Hearing none, the agenda is approved.”

By providing plenty of time for members to comment on the timed agenda and getting approval for the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, the chair has the tools necessary to move the meeting forward without stepping on anyone’s toes.  If someone is using too much time, the chair can say, “thank you for your comments, we are about to exceed the time allocation, do we need to table this topic until the next meeting or are we ready to call the question (meaning stop debate and vote)?

If you would like a sample board agenda, please contact me at tom@westgatepm.com.

Tom Simon is a Professional Manager of Community Associations (PCAM) and owner of WestGate Properties LLC, a management company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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