We have all been to one of those meetings – the ones where the association is facing a controversial issue with strong emotions on each side. The board and manager are usually anxious about how to handle the meeting, the competing arguments, and the emotions in the room. This can be a difficult role for the person chairing the meeting, especially if that person is (or is perceived to be) on one side or the other. So, what is the board or manager to do?
One option is to have a third-party, neutral moderator run the meeting. The moderator need not be a professional parliamentarian, but does need to be calm, rational, and strong. I have seen this used to great success at a packed meeting where the association was discussing management options. There were definitely two factions in the room. The board enlisted the help of a resident in the community to act as the moderator – a person who was not on the board and who had not expressed an opinion on the issue one way or the other. After the board made its presentation, the moderator opened the meeting up to comments from owners. He alternated between pro and con comments and held everyone speaking to a strict time limit. When comments started getting personal, he pointed that out and redirected the discussion back to the relevant issue. He was able to keep everyone on point, civil, and professional. In the end, the board was able to come away with very valuable feedback, which helped it to make a more informed decision.
If you are faced with a tough meeting and are dreading chairing it, we can help. One of our attorneys is a trained parliamentarian and they love moderating the tough meetings.
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