Dos & Don’ts for Hosting Guest Speakers at Your HOA Board Meetings
Homeowners’ association (HOA) board meetings are important—they’re where business is conducted, operations are reviewed, and plans are discussed. These meetings are necessary for the overall development of a community, but they often lack attendance and participation. That’s why many boards choose to invite a guest speaker. A guest speaker can make a meeting more engaging and entice residents to join.
However, it takes careful consideration to find the right presenter to incentivize attendance and keep your HOA meeting on track. Here’s what to do—and what not to do—when choosing the ideal guest speaker for your next board meeting.
DO: Follow your governing documents for presenter requirements.
If you’re considering a guest speaker for an upcoming HOA board meeting, see if your governing documents list any guidelines, requirements, or restrictions. Some communities may restrict non-HOA members from attending meetings intended for HOA residents. Others may require that outside speakers only present before the start or after the end of the meeting. Make sure you understand and adhere to these conditions, so you bring the most value to the meeting and maintain the trust of residents.
DON’T: Forget to communicate your expectations.
Some speakers are passionate about their work or cause and can easily take control of the meeting without even realizing it. Before the presentation, communicate your expectations to the speaker, so they know what’s appropriate. It also helps to share the importance and purpose of the meeting. That way, your speaker understands their role within the bigger picture.
If your guest presenter starts to stray from the topic or addresses meeting attendees out of turn, politely bring attention back to the agenda and be firm about further interruptions.
DO: Set clear boundaries.
Giving your guest speaker some boundaries is key to your meeting’s success. When inviting the speaker to present, provide as much detail as possible, including:
- The specific topic you’d like the speaker to discuss.
- Why this issue is relevant to your community.
- Possible questions residents have raised about the topic.
- The tone you want the presentation to have.
As the meeting date approaches, check in with your speaker and discuss what they plan to present to ensure it stays on course.
DON’T: Make it political.
Politics is something you want to keep out of your HOA meetings. Conflicting political views often create tension, leading to heated confrontations and controversies that can disrupt and take away from the goal of a meeting. Because of this, it’s best to avoid politicians as guest speakers, especially candidates running for local offices or around election cycles. As always, review your governing documents for any guidelines regarding political speakers or speakers with political affiliations.
DO: Host speakers who can discuss issues related to the community.
When planning to host a guest speaker at your next HOA board meeting, invite someone relevant and capable. Consider an expert who can speak on topics related to the community and homeowner issues. If residents have questions or concerns about something, try to bring in a knowledgeable speaker who can provide clarification and guidance. For example, potential speakers and related topics may include:
- Accountants: Advice on homeowner property taxes
- Insurance Consultant: Types of home insurance coverage and renewal information
- Professional Landscaper: Discussion on landscaping and home values
- Engineer: Explanation of community construction or upcoming projects
- Local Law Enforcement: Safety and crime prevention tips for residents
DON’T: Let the presentation take too long.
As part of your meeting preparations, remember to be respectful of residents’ time and plan accordingly. To keep attendees engaged throughout the meeting, you must be strategic about when your speaker will present and for how long.
In most instances, it’s beneficial to have your guest speaker present either before or after the meeting. Introducing a presenter in the middle of a meeting will disrupt the flow of crucial HOA topics. It’s best practice to:
- Give your speaker enough time to present their main points and answer questions.
- Keep the presentation at 30 minutes, not to exceed one hour.
- Have the speaker answer additional questions after the meeting is over.
DO: Promote your special guest speaker.
As soon as you confirm a guest speaker for an HOA board meeting, get the word out to generate excitement. It’s important to give members enough time to make plans to attend the meeting.
To promote the speaker and encourage attendance, you should:
- Add a short speaker bio to your HOA newsletter.
- Promote the speaker on your association’s website.
- Send a separate notification to announce your special guest speaker.
- Allow residents to submit questions for the speaker ahead of time.
Making the Most of Your HOA Board Meeting
With so much to discuss during board meetings, HOA leaders may wonder how to make the best use of the meeting time. Check out our article, “7 Ways To Better, More Productive Board Meetings,” for tips on streamlining the meeting process and getting more done.