How to properly conduct an owners' meeting

As a lawyer, I rarely get to experience the good meetings in condominiums. Ordinarily, if I am at a meeting it is because there is a contentious issue on the agenda, such as a special assessment, unexpected repair, or requisition. Yelling, interrupting, name-calling, foul language, security guards, and even chair-throwing are not unheard of at meetings. However, in the past few weeks I was fortunate enough to experience two meetings that went off without a hitch. Although I'd love to take credit for the way these meetings went, the real heroes were the property managers and directors. Although many factors contributed to the success of the meetings, there were three that stood out in my mind. First, the property managers and directors were organized. They had pre-meetings to discuss each of their roles, prepare a presentation to the owners, and discuss anticipated questions. This ensured that there were no awkward pauses or blank stares when responding to questions from the owners. Second, the directors were knowledgeable about the topic; the directors did not merely rely upon their property managers and lawyer to respond to questions from the owners. This too contributed to the success of the meeting. In my experience, relying too heavily on the property manager or lawyer can backfire on a board as the owners are more skeptical of their motives than they are of fellow owners. Moreover, it can create the impression that the property manager and lawyer work for the board, not the condominium as a whole. Third, the directors and property managers were respectful of the owners. They actively listened to their concerns and answered their questions without being rude, antagonistic, or condescending. In return, the owners were polite (even if they were not happy with the decisions made). With a bit of preparation and respect the directors and property managers avoided what could have been long and tedious meetings. Instead, the owners left the meetings feeling their concerns were addressed and satisfied (for the most part) with the results and the outcome was positive for all involved.