Steps for time efficient AGMs

Private Property South Africa
Tahir Desai

It will soon be time for sectional title schemes to hold their Annual General Meetings, and while many body corporate members will often want to avoid attending, seeing it as a long drawn out event and often something they would rather avoid, there are ways of controlling the time spent on each item as well as ensuring this time is productive, says Mandi Hanekom, operations manager for Propell.

It is very important for owners to be involved and attend meetings, so that they know what is happening in their scheme and could possibly contribute where help is needed, she said.

The Chairperson of the body corporate needs to be in control of meetings at all times to ensure that irrelevant topics are not brought up and only pertinent points are discussed. The AGM should not last longer than an hour and with good preparation it is possible to get everything done that is necessary, said Hanekom.

The first thing that should be done is to check that proper notice is given to all members to attend the meeting and that all the relevant paperwork is given to members ahead of time. If there are decisions to be voted on at the meeting and owners are given information ahead of time they can decide before the meeting which way they will vote, which saves a lot of discussion and time, she said.

All members should bring the necessary documents to the meeting and should be encouraged to arrive early. This then means that the meeting can start at the given time and not later.

The next step is to ensure that the necessary quorum for the scheme is present before any items are discussed, because there would be no point in continuing if the meeting has to be postponed due to lack of numbers, said Hanekom.

Once the meeting has been opened by the chairperson, the agenda should be stuck to and limited time given to members to discuss each item. The chairperson might need to curb unnecessary comments or people straying off the topic, she said. It is also important for he or she to summarise the main points at the end of each discussion so that everyone understands what they are voting on.

While some meetings can become “heated debates”, the chairperson must keep calm and in control of the meeting and, after each item has been closed off, remind the members what each item on the “to do” list is and who is responsible for each item.

The meeting can then be closed and the secretary should send the minutes out within a week of the meeting being held. This ensures that everything is still fresh in people’s minds, said Hanekom.

“The chairperson’s job is important here and his or her skill in effectively chairing and managing meetings will make the process less irksome for members. AGMs and special general meetings often have the reputation of dragging on and on but this does not need to be the case. Running meetings efficiently contributes to running the scheme efficiently, which then keeps members happy, and less likely to complain at meetings, which creates a positive cycle,” she said.

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