Leading any type of meeting can be stressful, but holding a meeting about a topic as close to a person as their home can prove very difficult. Such topics can stir up many different opinions and emotions, and possibly some unruly behavior. Trying to hold a productive HOA meeting can be straining if attendees cause disruptions, go off on tangents, or become very vocal about a particular homeowner issue. This article will help you to run a homeowners’ association meeting and deal with those pesky people.

Take questions at the end

Keep your crowd at bay by only taking questions at the end, during open forum. Kindly remind people that your job is to address the agenda, and to hold all their questions. If you allow one question to be answered outside of open discussion, you are essentially opening up the meeting to everyone’s questions and interruptions. One idea is to pass out small pieces of paper and have your attendees write any of their questions down. Collect all the paper and when it’s time to address questions, pull them randomly out of a bowl. This way, you are allowing all persons a chance to ask a question and there is less of an opportunity for any outbursts.

Set ground rules

One of the most important things you can do at the beginning of each meeting is to establish ground rules. You may have new faces in the crowd who have never attended an HOA meeting and aren’t sure what to expect. While most people will be respectful during meetings, there can be the occasional over-opinionated voice. It’s important to set rules in the beginning and remind people that everyone gets one pass if they interrupt, but upon a second interruption, that individual will be asked to leave. Do not hesitate the call the police on any extremely disruptive folks. Inform attendees that homeowners’ association meetings follow a specific agenda and the board is required to discuss certain business matters. Also, remind your homeowners that board members are volunteers. Express that your goal is to be respectful of everyone’s time and the issues up for discussion.

See our article on agenda protocol with a condo association meeting agenda sample.

Control interruptions & manage conflict

As a board member, you should be prepared for any conflict that may arise during a meeting. Maintain a neutral position and acknowledge all positions in the argument, whether you agree with them or not. Diffusing the situation by confronting the people head on is the best way to handle a heated conversation. Hopefully, setting ground rules you will avoid all arguments, but be prepared to quickly resolve a problem if necessary.

End on a positive note

The best way to end a meeting is to thank everyone for attending, including your board members for volunteering their time. Show appreciation for attendees’ questions and concerns; it may draw those same people to the next HOA meeting.