Preparing for and Running an Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Have our founder run it. The end.
Ha! Just kidding. I mean, she’s able to get through most of them at Usain Bolt-esque speed, but if you’re not looking to break any meeting speed records, you can learn how to prepare and chair (Ha! We’re poets and we didn’t even know it) an annual general meeting using tips and tricks from us.
In Alberta, the condo act and/or your bylaws will provide insight into the requirements for your agenda. While we’re all for bending the rules on occasion, this is one of those areas where you should stick to the rules. Adding in additional items that are not regulated can lead to confusion and to the masses wanting to add more than necessary, ultimately turning what should be an hour long meeting into a marathon-length get-together.
With the recent changes to the Act, there have been some timing changes for notices and additional documents that need to be included in the AGM package added to the list. A “Save the Date” notice is now required to be sent at least 60 days ahead of the scheduled meeting date. I know, I know… half the time the board doesn’t know a month before the meeting when and/or where they want to hold the meeting. In an effort to get in front of this issue, we’ve had great success in noting the 15 month cut off date to hold the meeting and sending a reminder 1–2 months before the 60 day requirement. (eg. Corporation X is due to have their AGM on or before September 30, 2021. The Save the Date notice would have to be sent no later than July 30, 2021.) Recognizing this date, a reminder is sent to the board at the beginning of June and every week thereafter until you get a reply. Not only does this ensure that you’re meeting the notification requirements, but it gives your boards ample time to decide on a date. Yes, this requires you to be 17 steps ahead, but with the proper workflow system(s) in place (blog post on this one coming soon), it’s actually pretty simple and takes one more thing off your already overflowing plate.
As noted above, the documents that are required to be sent to owners have changed. There are the usual AGM notice, agenda, audited financials, and last year’s meeting minutes, however, there are a few others that have been added to the list. You are now required to send the current fiscal year’s budget, a reserve fund report for the previous fiscal year, and if it hasn’t already been approved by the owners, a copy of the Standard Insurable Unit Definition. Once you’ve sent out your AGM notice, agenda, financials, and last years meeting minutes — all of your owners are now in possession of all the items they need in order to participate.
If you are chairing the meeting, we suggest arriving thirty minutes early. With the recent advent of online meetings being allowed, this time can be adjusted accordingly. This allows you to find a good seat in the room so you can see all of the attendees without having to strain. Generally, this is dead center of the table at the front of the room. But check it out, move around, find your spot.
Once there, get comfy. Turn your cell onto vibrate, get your laptop on Wi-Fi, and have your notebook or script ready and make sure to have at least two pens. Always have two pens because inevitably someone needs to borrow one and will often make off with it. (Life lesson here).
There should be another human (board member, manager, volunteer) who has everyone sign in as being in attendance. It’s important for another person take this role, as it allows them to focus on the stragglers and gathering numbers/proxies. Let them take control of that area.
Start the meeting on time. The only reason to be even a minute late is if you do not have quorum. If at five minutes to start time you don’t have quorum, have another board member start calling absent owners to obtain proxies. Generally, we have a good idea before the meeting starts if we will have quorum. Our boards are proactive and reach out to their neighbours to ensure they attend. Why? Because if we don’t have quorum, the meeting is pooched and has to be rescheduled anyway, often throwing a wrench into people’s lives.
Garner the attention of your group right off the bat. Talk in a loud, clear voice. Project your voice to the back of the room to ensure everyone can hear you. You can even do a faux mic check, “Testing, testing — can everyone hear me?” to ensure that you can be heard. Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend their Thursday night at a condo meeting, so the sooner you get control of the room, the sooner everyone can go home. The rest of the room will understand that this is a no nonsense tactic and assist you if anyone gets too loud.
In an effort to run an efficient meeting, our script includes rules of engagement during the AGM. These include:
- Please say your unit number first when you are called upon
- All questions, unless otherwise specified must wait until the new business section. Depending on how you want to run your meeting, questions pertaining to the reports given by the President and Treasurer can be asked subsequent to their respective reports. If you do allow this, ensure that the discussion doesn’t take a ‘Family Guy’ segue into the best place to buy Pho.
- New business pertains to the building as a whole. If you have an item pertaining directly to your unit, email your condo manager. The AGM is not the time or place for individual concerns. Alternatively, stick around after the meeting and bring it up to the manager in person
- There will be no interruptions. We will have this AGM in a manner that is productive and cordial.
These may seem like basic items, but the moment you say them out loud, it becomes the law of the land. All attendees are legal adults, which means they *should* be acting as such. That said, anyone who’s had the privilege (terms used lightly) of chairing an AGM knows full well that what should happen isn’t always what actually happens.
As you’re going through your agenda and motions, stick to your own laws. Be concise, don’t interrupt and ensure all that you are discussing is for the overall general well being of the corporation.
If an AGM is done correctly, clearly and on point — there is no reason for this meeting to be longer than 1 hour. Our average is thirty minutes. This timeframe is subjective, as the meeting is held for owners to have an opportunity to have their say. The trick is to find that Olympic level balance between letting someone speak and ensuring that you don’t have to pass out sleeping bags and pillows when the meeting runs well into the night.
If all else fails, Bailey’s in your to-go coffee mug is always a good choice.