The annual general meeting (AGM), also known as an annual meeting, is arguably the most important meeting for condo communities. Members are elected to serve on the board of directors. Owners are given an opportunity to hear about the corporation’s financial health, projects, and other significant issues. In short, an AGM is a meeting where the board reports to owners on matters that impact them, and attendees can ask questions, make important decisions, and talk about things as a community.
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Each corporation has a process for organizing and hosting AGMs, and the governing documents usually dictate this process. In most cases, the following items are included in the agenda:
- Approval of the minutes of the previous AGM
- A review from the auditor of year-end financial reports
- A report from the president and/or the board of directors regarding matters like past performance, upcoming projects, changes to rules or bylaws, and ongoing issues
- The election of directors
- New business
- Other business
It’s not unusual for the president to chair the meeting, although a condo lawyer or manager can take on this role with the permission of the assembly. Still, many communities prefer it if it is the president who chairs the meeting. Few people understand the condo’s inner working better than the corporation’s president, and the speech is often perceived to be more sincere when he or she addresses members.
The president’s report
The president’s report covers the most important matters related to the association. It highlights some of the most significant events or news that occurred since the last AGM, and gives members an idea of what to expect for the next year. A thoughtful president will also use this opportunity to recognize individuals and committees for their hard work.
Like any report, a president’s report will be as unique as the person giving the presentation. However, there are certain things that they can do to make the report more engaging and impactful.
Keep it short
The report should not be too formal, nor should it be excessively long. No one enjoys sitting through longwinded speeches. Shorter reports are even more important if you intend to host a virtual AGM.
The president’s report should be accurate to establish and maintain trust and transparency between the board and members. If it was not a good financial year for the condo, don’t try to hide that fact. Instead, be honest, clearly explain why the corporation was struggling financially, and outline how the corporation will work to resolve the issue.
The report should explain what has been accomplished in the past year. The president can use this time to discuss positive changes, completed projects, improvements, and other items that will show members where their money and resources have been invested. Let them know that their feedback was acknowledged and used to make the condo a better place to live. People like to hear good news. Don’t be shy about sharing it.
Highlight issues that have not yet been resolved
The president must also cover issues or problems that did not get resolved. They need to give members an honest picture of how the corporation is doing, and there will always be items that need improvement. Prepare them for projects that may cost more than originally anticipated, increases in condo fees, or changes to plans.
Prepare members for the next year
Motivate or excite owners to cooperate on issues, whether it’s energy savings, cleanliness, or noise problems. Share the corporation’s goals and plans for the upcoming year, and where appropriate, invite them to get involved.
Recognize staff and members
A small thank you can go a long way. Take the time to acknowledge committee members, the property manager, board members and owners for their time, hard work and willingness to invest in the corporation. Not only do they deserve it, but it encourages them to keep up the good work.
The report should be documented
The president’s report should be documented and distributed in the following year’s AGM package, as it was given. Avoid making additions or embellishments.
Tips for writing better reports
If you’re a new president and aren’t sure about how to approach your report for the AGM, just think about what you’d want to hear if you were attending the meeting. Write like you were having an in-person conversation with a member, meaning talk to your members, not at them.
Define the purpose of the report
It’s easy to get lost in the small details. To avoid falling into this trap, identify your purpose or key talking points before you start writing your report. Think about what members need to know, how to present the facts plainly, and what you want them to take away from the report. When discussing issues, make sure you also include practical solutions that the corporation will use to resolve the issues.
Use active, engaging language
Focus on getting your key points across quickly – without sacrificing important supporting information. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but it can be done. Be clear and concise and stay away from dense language or unnecessary jargon. You are used to condo language, but some members may not have a clue about what certain terms mean. Keep your report engaging by using active sentences. Do your best to keep passive or wordy sentences out of your speech. For example, don’t say “it might be helpful to check announcements from the board regularly.” Just say, “check announcements often.”
Organize the report for clarity and coherence
The report should represent a logical progression of thought to make it easy to follow. Make an outline for yourself that can help you create a clear structure to follow. Start with an introduction, perhaps talk about your role as president, go through the successes, challenges and goals, shine the spotlight on others, and finish with a strong conclusion.
Read the report out loud
Coming up with what you want to say is a big part of writing a report. But editing and proofreading are equally important. When you’ve finished writing, take a break. Then, come back to the report and look for any sentences that don’t serve a purpose and remove them. Read the report out loud. Even though something sounds good in your head, it might not translate when you’re delivering the report. It’s also easier to catch mistakes when you can actually hear them.
While this isn’t mandatory, you could consider putting together a short PowerPoint and incorporating visuals such as graphs or before and after photos to make your speech more appealing. Visuals are strongly recommended if you are presenting in a virtual meeting.
Preparing for an AGM requires a lot of planning and organization. While the president’s report may sound like a small part of a big event, in reality, it matters quite a bit. The report gives owners critical information about the health of the condo corporation, informs them about upcoming projects and matters, and helps ensure all members are on the same page. Use the report as an opportunity to connect with members of your community, demonstrate what the condo has accomplished, and encourage attendees to take a more proactive role.
Download our free president’s report template