How to Have a Successful Community Meeting

March 8, 2014
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Emerald Village HOA Meeting

The earlier you can learn to enjoy meetings, the better, since they will begin before the community itself. Making them productive, while maintaining good relationships takes practice. Here’s a few tips from Activated Villages on how to have a great time facilitating and participating in community meetings (hopefully just in time for the picnic at Heartland coming on Sunday!)

First, get everyone at the meeting on the same page with rules and format. If you can do this before the meeting, even better! If you haven’t done it beforehand, you can take it on yourself to suggest a set of rules and get agreement, or collectively come up with rules. Helpful ones we use include:

•Choose a start and end time. Stick to it.
•Make sure everyone gets heard: Propose clear questions and set a time limit for answers. Feel free to use an actual timer. We have a little fun with this sometimes, and say “when your two minutes are up, you can finish what you’re saying, but you can’t take another breath.” This provides a little comic relief when people might be feeling snubbed.
•Be succinct. Just share what is necessary for the subject, and don’t repeat things that have already been said.
•Set clear action steps and schedule follow up meetings during the current meeting, to take advantage of all that excitement and motivation you have generated.

Obviously, you can make your own list, but whatever the rules are, a shared understanding of expectations will be helpful to everyone.

The rules are important, but they’re easy compared to the next tip: come with an open mind. It seems obvious, but, the most challenging aspect of community is not the rules, or vision, or even financing, it’s personalities. You need to know how to get through moments of “oh my god how am I going to get through a lifetime/2 hours with these people.” Two things that help are

• Come with a clear personal vision and motivation. You can even assign a little homework to everyone before the meeting to ask: What do I want out of community? and What can I offer community.
• Be genuinely curious about how your vision will change as it meets the real world and the influence of others. Remember that you need them to make this happen, so there will be an exchange of control over your vision for the chance to make it reality.
• Inviting friends can be a great way to bring outside perspective to a meeting. But if you have too many people who aren’t interested in actually creating a community, who simply like to talk about it, or are pure spectators, the process will really stall.

You may have a pretty juicy meeting in store. So what about the people who can’t make it? It can be a great idea to assign a notetaker to pass on information to others. And you have the option of making posts from the meeting which allow people who can’t attend an opportunity to participate online in real-time.

If, in all of this organizing, you find yourself being the only one really pulling to create these meetings or follow-up, you might be frustrated. But this can be a great thing. Every group needs a motivator. You can embrace that roll if you have the inspiration. It’s important, however, to avoid creating a power vacuum. Become an expert at helping others express themselves and be heard.

No matter what your role, try to be happy that there’s dialogue, be happy that there’s communication happening at all. What you’re doing isn’t easy, and this makes the rewards even greater.

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About the Author ()

Jonah Mesritz lives in San Diego County and has been actively involved in buying, selling and investing in real estate here since 1999. He is a former U.S. Navy SEAL sniper and now brings to real estate his ability to think out of the box, be thorough, precise and to find creative ways to complete the mission.

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