Long before the meeting, take the time to create both a pre-meeting and post-meeting checklist. The pre-meeting checklist should include reserving the venue, planning an agenda, advertising the meeting to association members and checking the status of any open issues from the previous year’s meeting. For the post-meeting checklist, include following up on issues brought up in the meeting, updating records appropriately and making notes to help with the next year’s meeting.
During this preparation process, you should also make a list of important documents and other helpful items, such as projectors or PA systems that need to be brought to the annual meeting. Finally, consider the questions you are most likely to face from members and draft a list of possible responses.
Bring structure to the association’s annual meeting with a detailed agenda. When creating the agenda, be sure to:
- List the question and answer portion of the meeting on the agenda as “member comments.”
- Leave plenty of time to tabulate any ballots from the meeting.
- Schedule appropriate speakers to cover each topic.
- Acknowledge community helpers and committee members.
- Schedule time for election of directors. (Keep in mind that officers should not be elected during this meeting).
- Use scripts when possible to make the meeting run smoothly.
- Create a structured sign-in process that allows you to keep track of every member present at the meeting and ensure that all attendees are current on dues.
It may be prudent to retain professionals, such as lawyers and CPAs, to help you prepare for the meeting and deal with the issues that arise during it. For example, if you believe any governing documents could be amended at the meeting, you should have an attorney present to oversee the process. These professionals can also help you during any of the planning meetings you schedule before the main event.
Acknowledge the Meeting’s Strong and Weak Points
When your annual meeting is over, sit down with your support staff to discuss the meeting’s successes and failures. Make notes about the procedures that worked well, as well as those that need to be changed before the next year’s meeting, and file them away until planning time rolls around again. You should also take this time to go over your post-meeting checklist.
Keep in mind that the post-meeting checklist should typically be completed and submitted to the appropriate recipient within two days of the meeting. If changes to association records were ordered at the meeting, associations should update these records as soon as possible. Finally, associations should always mail a copy of the meeting’s highlights, action item list, questions and comments within 10 days of the annual meeting.
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