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With varying mandates about meeting in-person due to the pandemic, community meetings, committee meetings, and HOA Board meetings have continued to be virtual. Throughout the many months of online community meetings, there have been some best practices that have emerged for hosting effective and productive virtual community meetings.

Benefits of Virtual Community Meetings 

Many clients were initially skeptical about how virtual community meetings would be received. What many of them soon discovered was that there are other benefits that go beyond providing a way to still hold meetings when in-person meetings are not possible or allowed.

First and foremost, virtual community meetings have increased resident participation. They have become more engaged in the process because they like the flexibility of joining from whatever device they would like to use. Residents also state that the timing of most meetings previously did not fit with their other obligations. However, the virtual option allows them to participate while taking care of things in the home or office simultaneously.

Greater participation has positively impacted the ability of more associations to reach quorum during a meeting, to complete the required voting process. Many also stated that they liked the anonymity of electronic voting versus paper ballots.

Management companies have also benefitted in other ways thanks to the virtual meeting format. The challenges of finding the best physical setting and time on everyone’s schedule, including association staff, are solved. There are cost savings, too, including reduced print and mail expenses since information can be shared on a screen through a virtual platform. Finally, the individual overseeing the meeting can retain more control of the meeting thanks to features like muting, electronic hand-raising, and chat. This can result in a tighter agenda and an orderly and shorter meeting.

The virtual meeting platform has also worked well for other formats, including committee meetings, so those in the community can keep projects moving as well as approvals for architectural changes and other vendor work. Residents also noted that the online communication channel helped provide reassurance to know that they could always remain connected to those overseeing the community.

Virtual Community Meeting Best Practices

Here are some ways you can get the most out of virtual community meetings:

  • Align the virtual meeting platform to your other online channels. Use your existing website and app to help connect your community to documents associated with meetings and issue reminders through these channels. If you don’t already have an online presence for your community, Innovia can help you digitally transform your resident communications process.
  • Define online meeting types and schedule. Creating a list of the meetings your community typically holds and establishing a formal schedule can keep communications on track and deliver consistent information. These meetings may include Board meetings, annual meetings, committee meetings, and emergency meetings. There is a specific process for each type of meeting that must be followed so it is also good to prepare this ahead of time for how it should work in a virtual setting.
  • Develop a specific voting plan. As you know, voting is a strict process in an HOA. You can help by creating a detailed plan for electronic voting to ensure it adheres to all the requirements set forth in the community bylaws.
  • Know all the features of a virtual meeting platform. Since there are specific processes to follow for each meeting, it is good to know how the virtual meeting platform will accommodate those requirements. Understanding how the online meeting platform works can also encourage you to potentially suggest how the channel can be used for other community events, such as online block parties or virtual holiday events.
  • Have a readily accessible tech team. There will be times where technical issues will arise. It helps to have a few people who are knowledgeable about the online platform to help meeting participants. They can also help community members understand the platform and provide a help guide on the website or app.
  • Establish a virtual meeting process. To get the most efficiency from this format, create a detailed process document for each type of meeting. It should specify who is involved and what type of materials are required as well as provide an agenda template. Be aware of cameras, backgrounds, sound quality, and security settings to ensure an optimum experience for everyone. It may also help to do testing in advance of each virtual meeting to ensure everything is working as planned.
  • Nominate an online meeting monitor. Designate someone who is willing to assist with online meetings, including addressing any disruptions and handling incoming questions. They can also help by tracking the meeting time to assist Board or committee members with adhering to the timeframe.
  • Consider alternative channels for greater accessibility. Although the online meeting plan is easy to use and requires commonly used devices, there may be situations where not all community members can access the virtual meetings. This is where you can add in other channels or methods for sharing the information, including conference call access, a taped recording, meeting transcript, and/or meeting minutes via email.

Selecting a Virtual Meeting Platform

There’s a lot to consider when selecting an online meeting platform, including ease of use, accessibility, and cost. At Innovia, we can help you with this decision and other strategic choices that will build value for your community or company. Contact us to learn more about how we can work together.