Going Virtual: HOA & COA Web Conferencing
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Web conferencing isn't exactly a new concept, but given the unprecedented practice of "social distancing," now may be the best time to find the right video conferencing platform for your association.
"What's special about video conferencing?"
Once the coronavirus (COVID-19) subsides, many business and family-related web conferences will continue. If online meetings are new to you, think of it like using WhatsApp or FaceTime with a loved one. Sure, you wish you could be there in person, but the cost of a video chat vs. a plane ticket doesn't hold much of an argument. Besides, you still get that same satisfaction of having a pleasant face-to-face conversation.
Well, that's video conferencing in a nutshell! Just because we're learning to keep our distance for a little while, doesn't mean board communication should stop.
"But what does web conferencing look like?"
Just how you'd conduct normally-run board meetings. Boards will get to see and chat with their colleagues from the comforts of home. The only thing to remember is upholding Robert's Rules of Order. For some, this may be a challenge on its own, especially if your board has a lot of ideas! Here's what we recommend:
- The board president, or designated host, is responsible for keeping the meeting on track (i.e. sticking to the agenda).
- Keep all discourse civil and focused on agenda items.
- Give everybody at least one opportunity to speak before sharing a second opinion.
- When possible, direct questions to the president or host. However, civil discussions may flow between all members regardless of rank.
- Assume positive intent. Politeness can go a long way, especially when several members have dissenting viewpoints.
- Watch the clock. It's during times like these where days are fluid and things can change at a moment's notice. Make your words and time count.
"Ok, I think I'm in! But what platform is best?"As your management partner, we believe you know what's best for your association. Granted, there are plenty of options to choose from, including Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx and Zoom. So, we've put together a comparison chart of today's most used video conferencing platforms. Just check off a few boxes and do a bit of research before making the call.Be sure to count the cost, consider your community's size, how often you'll meet, its capabilities and the number of people participating in the call.
Download our comparison chart to compare available web conferencing platforms.
"What are the benefits of video conferencing?"
- Built-in recording capabilities Offer a way for board members, like the secretary or manager, to refer to the meeting for accurate notetaking.
- Screen sharing. For the time being, you may not be able to deliver documents personally, but screen sharing is the next best thing! Virtually sharing PowerPoint presentations, vendor websites, budget reports or live demonstrations of how to navigate your community's website help to create the in-person interactions you're used to.
- Visual vs. audible communication Humans rely on body language and other social cues to better understand what's being communicated and how. Not only will video conferencing with fellow board members help maintain order, but it will also help you measure intent as the parties involved can see and react to whoever is speaking.
- Meeting Structure Long before the web conference begins, you should get a calendar invitation with an explanation of what you can expect to discuss on the call. This allows boards to prepare their talking points and research solutions while still being mindful of the time.
- Less travel time Your designated meeting space may only be a few minutes away from home, but consider this: over time, your gas expenses go down, which could further encourage virtual board meetings.
- Higher attendance Now that the cost of getting to your board meeting has been addressed, you can almost bet that an increase in homeowner attendance and engagement will happen. People like choices and having the option to comfortably meet in their own home may sway residents to officially go virtual.
- There's room for improvement! Of course, we wouldn't suggest new communication techniques without offering a few resources, like ways to improve your video conferencing experience or body language cues that keep you engaged throughout your virtual meeting.
- Sustainability. It's no secret that conducting personal and business-related matters is the new way of doing things. By adopting a web conferencing platform, your board is acknowledging it as a necessity rather than the alternative. It's a great way to communicate, even in the most unlikely scenarios, allows flexibility and is cost-effective — something almost all associations are willing to get behind.
You may be wondering where the silver lining is. Perhaps we can help:1. Video conferencing efficiently makes time for your community's needs so you can make time for your families and loved ones. Who knows? Maybe this will be your "new normal."
2. Your association will remain safe. For some, technology may not always be on our side, but once you've gotten the hang of it, it's hard to imagine doing it any other way.
3. Things will return back to "normal." And once they do, your board may decide to resume in-person meetings. But at least you're prepared for unforeseen circumstances that force you out of our comfort zone. Either way, you learned something new, and, as community leaders, that's always a good thing!