Virtual Meetings… Getting Past the Fear

In our recent blog, “Conducting Virtual Meetings During the COVID-19 Crisis”, we reviewed different options that condominium corporations could consider for holding virtual meetings, if choosing not to delay the meetings until a later date.

Recently, we have heard from clients that there is still some concern in the condo industry about organizing and running virtual meetings and about the costs to hire a third party for these purposes. As a result, many condominiums have considered delaying their meetings until after the restrictions on meetings have been lifted. For many meetings, this may of course be fine.  However, with the latest extension of the declared emergency to June 30, 2020, it could be even longer before in person meetings again become a real possibility. As a result, we are hoping to persuade you that virtual meetings are not to be feared.

Virtual meetings come with a learning curve and there is no question that the various options and procedures can at first be daunting. But as with most things, we are finding that familiarity is bringing a certain level of comfort.

At DHA, we started out by researching the options (for both meeting and voting), and we’ve since been hosting and chairing meetings on behalf of our clients. We’re now finding that virtual meetings are coming into greater focus. And again, we’re finding that virtual meetings are not to be feared.  Here are some of the pointers that we’ve picked up and applied so far:

  1. Forum – Pick your forum for holding your virtual meeting. We have had good success with Zoom webinars (which also allow for raised hands and polls as possible voting options during such meetings, but there are also other options for voting – see below).  Zoom is also not the only option. There are some other strong meeting platforms out there.
  1. Running the meeting – We’ve found that it’s an excellent idea to have BOTH a Chair and a Host for the meeting. In many cases, this is a key to success. The Chair needs to focus on ensuring the meeting moves smoothly through the agenda. The Host will be responsible for ensuring that the technology runs smoothly. In addition, having the Host share the screen (to show minutes, financials and other materials) allows the Chair to continue to focus on the meeting.
  1. Registration – Plan out your registration process to ensure that you have a method of ensuring that you know who is in the meeting and the various voting rights of the participants. We like the idea of requiring owners to pre-register for the meeting and / or submit their proxies at least a day in advance of the meeting. Then, we like to prepare a chart with all owners’ names, email addresses, proxy information and voting rights. This makes scrutinizing of close votes fairly quick and straightforward during the meeting.
  1. Voting – Determine in advance how you will handle various votes that arise during the meeting. Simple votes can often be done by show of hands.  However, if there will be an election or any other vote requiring a secret ballot, we find it’s best to set those up in advance.   When we Chair/Host the meeting, we’ve found that the platform “Survey Monkey”, or other such platforms, can be nicely tailored to handle secret ballots.  The “survey / voting questions” can be pre-populated and then shared with all participants, and the votes retrieved, in real time during the meeting. Again, there are other options available including third party voting services. If the Corporation will be using a third-party provider, book early!
  1. Test run – Before the meeting (maybe even the night before), consider having a test run with your board and speakers to ensure that you work out any kinks.

If you are prepared and organized, virtual meetings can run very smoothly and can be efficient and fulfilling for everyone involved.

Stay tuned for more information on virtual meetings as we continue to tackle the “learning” curve!

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