Category: General

Trouble with Board Meetings?

Formal meetings often bring together a myriad of personalities and personal agendas. Most board members have probably attended meetings slated to last one hour and have watched, with a sinking feeling, the clock tick past the three- or four-hour mark, with no decision or identified next steps in sight.

In the condominium world, meetings take place several times a year — often monthly, but sometimes more frequently if there are contentious or pressing items that require a decision.  Every now and then, a meeting needs a lot of time to lay out the topics and discuss each one prudently, ensuring that everyone can share their piece and hopefully come to an agreement.

However, some lengthy meetings are strictly the result of poor organization or an inattentive or inexperienced chair. The stark fact is that long meetings can often be inefficient and costly due to meeting rooms that are booked by the hour or a third-party minute taker who is paid hourly. On top of that, there is the opportunity cost of participants’ time. Most condo board members are volunteers and often busy people: the longer the meeting, the less time they can allocate to other matters, whether personal or professional.

Time and again, condo meetings, if only organized and orchestrated correctly, can be effectively conducted to achieve everything that is outlined. The issue often comes down to the conduct of the board, sheer disorganization and the inability to narrow down the salient topics. This is where guidelines on facilitating organized meetings can help tremendously. Here are a few things to consider:

Send the Meeting Package in Advance: The meeting package should include all documents that are to be reviewed, discussed or approved at the meeting, including the agenda and/or management report, financial statements, previous minutes and quotes from potential vendors. A well-outlined agenda will go a long way to cutting down your meeting time as it should clearly set out what is to be discussed and allows board members to prepare for anticipated discussions in advance. Reviewing the complete package, including previous minutes, prior to the meeting will allow conversations to take a more regimented course. Topics of discussion and amendments may arise from previous minutes, however, reviewing items in advance allows them to be approved promptly and potential changes can be discussed quickly.

Pre-Meeting Communication: Email communication prior to meetings is a great tool to save time when the board gathers. Before meetings, boards should send via email a list of approvals that will be needed. If everyone agrees to the approvals in advance, they can be confirmed via resolution at the meeting and adopted into the minutes. This will significantly limit conversation about motions and topics on which most board members already agree. Reconfirming the meeting with members and guests 24 hours prior to start time will also help eliminate the potential for a meeting to not make quorum. It is not uncommon for a board member’s availability to change right before a meeting and they may overlook the need to notify the rest of the board. A good practice is for boards to schedule their meetings at the start of the year, for the following 12 months, as this helps to reduce scrambling and rescheduling.

A Defined Start and End Time: Everybody’s time is valuable. Although discussions may go longer than anticipated, this puts a conscious timeline on the meeting, encouraging participants to respect the clock. Announcing when there are 30 minutes left in the scheduled meeting time reminds participants a limited amount of time remains to complete any outstanding agenda items.

Appoint a Strong Chair: The chairperson is essentially the quarterback of a meeting and should possess the ability to mediate conflict and prevent dialogue from getting out of control and off course. A good chair will effectively manage the agenda, take control when necessary and steer the meeting back on course from potential tangents. Sometimes subsidiary topics that are brought up are relevant; however, as opposed to a free-for-all on these new topics, it is up to the chair to allocate time to discuss these additional items.  Anything newly posited should be put on the agenda of a subsequent meeting so that new topics can be addressed in an organized manner. A good chair will also repeat and summarize motions for clarification. After motions are passed, sometimes there is still discussion due to a lack of clarity; repeating these items will clear up confusion and assist the minute taker in recording the motions accurately.

Avoid Table Talk: It is human nature for people to socialize and talk about everyday topics such as the weather, family, sports, etc. However, to run an efficient meeting, these conversations should be saved for before or after the meeting.

A Compliant Board: Yes, opinions and ambitions often differ in a meeting — that is the beauty of a democracy. However, board members should respect the time and opinions of others and acknowledge the current tasks at hand.

Minutes and Action Items: A good set of minutes with clear action items will set you up for success at your next meeting. Clear action items will let people know what they are tasked with for the next meeting and will hold people accountable. If members forget what their tasks are for the next meeting, they can always consult the previous minutes to see what needs to be accomplished. Showing up to a meeting without having tasks completed, or even acknowledged, can cause the meeting to veer off course before it even begins.

If a board follows these steps, meetings will achieve a more professional discourse and debates can be controlled in a tactful and time-effective manner.

Minutes Solutions is a professional third-party minute taking company specializing in condo board meetings since 2008. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions: [email protected]

Documenting a Legacy

Alyssa Eade is a client of Minutes Solutions. About a year ago she sat down with her grandmother and conducted an interview about her life story. She had the interview saved on an audio file for over a year. Just recently, Alyssa’s grandmother unfortunately passed away. She knew that she had to get the audio file of her interview transcribed before the funeral so she could share stories with family and friends. She reached out to Minutes Solutions to help her transcribe the audio file in a relatively urgent time frame. We decided to sit down with Alyssa and ask her a few questions about why she thought it was a good idea to have the interview transcribed. In our opinion, what she did was amazing, as we believe the ability to share stories with future generations about family history, lineage, and perseverance is something that many take for granted, until it may be too late.

Why did you decide to interview your grandmother?

Last year, when my husbands’ grandfather passed away, I read a copy of his memoir. He had written his story about a decade ago, with beautiful penmanship. My mother-in-law later transcribed it and had copies available at his Shiva [a Jewish ritual for mourning the loss of a person]. As soon as I picked it up, I was hooked. It was so interesting to learn about a man I only met in his 90’s and to read his perspective on his childhood, life milestones and memories.

After reading this, I knew I needed to take the time to interview my grandmother so that she, too, could have a memoir. My grandmother, who lived to be almost 92 years old, was the “sharpest tool in the shed”, even up until her last day. I knew that it would be very difficult for her to physically write out her story, but, if I interviewed her using an audio recording device, she would have plenty to say.

And that she did! Last July, my cousin and I spent the afternoon with my grandmother first by having lunch and then asking her questions about her life story. This was an experience I will always cherish.

Why is this important?

To understand a person, it’s important to understand where they came from. Even though I was very close with my grandmother and felt I knew her well, I knew there was a lot about her past that, as a grandchild, I had never asked about. I knew that if I took the time to interview my grandmother, not only would she love to share her story but, more importantly, it would be a valuable keepsake for all of her loved ones in the future.

Did you learn things you otherwise did not know about her and your family? If yes, what did you learn?

Definitely. What I found most fascinating were the experiences she shared about getting married and becoming a mother – because these are the life stages that I am currently facing (being newly married and thinking about starting a family). Shortly after my grandmother got engaged to my grandfather, he took off to Germany to serve in the army for two years. To think that they could only communicate by snail mail for two years would be unimaginable today. She also shared that prior to giving birth to my Dad, she had a baby that lived for only 10 days followed by a miscarriage.

Beyond these adversities, I found it fascinating to learn about her education, her views on gender roles and her religious identity, what she did for fun and about her relationship with her parents and grandparents.

Why did you decide to have the audio transcribed?

After my grandmother passed away, I realized I had the audio recording of the interview with my grandmother, but had not shared it with anyone.

I decided to have the audio recording transcribed because I thought it would be easier for people to skim parts of the interview and also to have it as a documented piece of family history.

What benefits did you find from having the audio transcribed?

The transcribed interview allowed more people to learn about my grandmother in a digestible format. The audio recording is almost two hours in length, while reading through the interview takes about 15 minutes.

When our rabbi was preparing the eulogy about my grandmother, I was amazed that I had the answers for so many of the questions he asked about – some that no one else knew or remembered the answers to.

I was able to share the transcribed interview with friends and relatives – and many of them have told me how much they enjoyed reading it and learning about my grandmother.

Would you recommend other people to do what you did? Why?

Without a doubt. This interview with my grandmother is a cherished gift that I feel so fortunate I took the opportunity to do. I consider this to be the greatest keepsake I am left with from my grandmother. I know that I will read and listen to this interview at different stages of my life when I want to remember her. I hope to one day share my grandmother’s story with children of my own so that they can understand and appreciate their roots. I know I do.

Know Your Minute Taker

Minute taking can be a daunting task but it needs to be done to keep proper records of a board’s decisions and to serve as a road map of past, present and future plans.

A board member is frequently tasked with taking the minutes, however, this can disrupt the flow of a meeting as it prevents the assigned minute taker from actively participating in the discussion. This can also cause the minutes to be subjective instead of objective and unbiased. It takes a specialized group of skills – and often proper training – to understand how to put together a clear, concise and objective set of minutes.

A lot of light has been shed on the importance of taking and keeping minutes recently. If a board lacks a designated, detached minute taker who isn’t required to actively participate in the meeting, a good solution is hiring a third-party minute-taking company. In that case, there are options.

Three good questions to ask the minute taking company you are vetting:

  1. Can you provide three recent referrals?
  2. How do I know the individual taking my meeting minutes is qualified?
  3. How quick is your turnaround time for a completed set of minutes?


For all your questions about minute taking and everything involved, contacting Minutes Solutions may be your first step to a stress-free solution.

Audio Solution: Creating the Best Audio for Hybrid Meetings

Boards have adapted and migrated from in-person meetings to virtual meetings, to a blend of both, known as hybrid meetings. Virtual meetings require individual participants to log into the online meeting room remotely; hybrid meetings, on the other hand, involve both remote attendees and participants who gather physically (such as in a conference room) and who log into the online meeting room together.

While many participants are now familiar with common audio disruptions during virtual meetings from technological glitches, hybrid meetings present new challenges because multiple microphones and sound speakers are being used in a single room. This emits audio feedback (or screeching) and echoing that eat up precious meeting time, create distractions for attendees, and make it difficult to understand the discussion.

What Causes Audio Feedback or Echoing

Audio feedback or echoing during hybrid meetings occur when multiple active sound input and output devices are within proximity. If the sound speakers are loud enough to play into nearby microphones, the originating audio signal (i.e., the voice speaking) will be picked up by the nearest microphone, be played through the multiple speakers in the physical room, and then simultaneously be channelled back into the other active microphones nearby, resulting in an audio loop that causes the screeching.

To avoid audio feedback/echoing during hybrid meetings, some participants resort to using a single cell phone that is logged into the Zoom room. While the cell phone’s built-in, echo-cancellation function prevents audio loops, a single microphone is unable to record the participants’ voices with accuracy and clarity (especially if attendees are physically distanced in accordance with public-health protocols). This results in poor sound quality for all meeting participants and makes it difficult for remote attendees to hear and understand the discussion.

How to Fix It

During hybrid meetings on Zoom, in-person participants can minimize audio feedback/echoing while maintaining the audibility and clarity of the conference discussion by isolating active sound speakers and microphones within the physical room.

Step 1:

Only one person in the physical room, such as the chairperson or meeting organizer, logs into the Zoom meeting room and turns ON the speaker and microphone (Figure 1).

(Figure 1)

Step 2:

Everyone else in the physical room logs in using their device, turns OFF the sound speaker, turns ON the microphone (Figure 2), and lowers the device volume (Figure 3). This setup allows Zoom to pick up original audio signals (i.e., voices) throughout the room without emitting and channelling those signals back into nearby microphones and creating feedback/echoing.

Step 3:

Meeting attendees who participate remotely can use both their microphone and speaker on their single device (Figure 4). Using two active audio devices to log into the Zoom room, such as a computer and cell phone, can cause audio feedback/echoing.

(Figure 4)

Now enjoy clear and audible sound during your hybrid meetings and have a clear recording once the meeting is complete, whether attending in-person or remotely. If minutes are being created from a recording of your meeting, it is very important to provide the minute taker the best-quality audio from your meeting.

Cheat Sheet for the Best Audio Quality for Your Hybrid Meeting

  • Only one person in the physical room logs into the Zoom meeting room and turns ON their device’s speaker and microphone.
  • All other in-person attendees (or as many as possible) log in using their device, turn OFF the sound speaker, turn ON the microphone, and lower their device volume.
  • Remote meeting attendees turn ON the microphone and speaker on their single device, as they would for virtual meetings.

Enjoy clear and audible sound during your hybrid meetings, whether attending in-person or remotely.