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Working from home has impacted how organizations and teams use technology for remote meetings. This shift is also having an impact on board planning for annual shareholder meetings.
AGMs now typically venture outside the four-wall conference halls, with many companies choosing to host their annual shareholder meetings virtually, thanks to easy-to-use digital solutions like Zoom and GoToWebinar.
Reducing travel and commuting can have positive impacts on AGM attendance as well as reducing environmental impact. But ensuring board and stakeholder engagement in a hybrid model takes forethought.
If your board is planning a hybrid or virtual AGM this year, we’re here to help. We’ve prepared a 7-step checklist for boards and administrators for a hybrid AGM. Read on to ensure your hybrid annual shareholder meeting is a positive experience that runs smoothly and stress-free.
Even though some organizations have been running virtual board meetings for years, many others have never had one. But AGMs involving shareholders as participants are a more complex undertaking, even for organizations that have experience with virtual board meetings.
You want to focus on the company’s actions and reports from the past year and encourage all stakeholders to participate, whether they’re joining in person or remotely. Your hybrid AGM’s success depends on your board’s preparedness, the conferencing technology you choose, and the software you use for the board portal.
Also, your board needs to consider the needs of those attending your hybrid meeting: what tools will they need to make their experience as transparent and accountable as if they were attending an in-person AGM?
Finding a virtual event platform is essential for delivering a seamless hybrid or virtual AGM. With over 300 video conferencing software options available, choosing a popular and reliable option should be at the top of your priority list!
When selecting your software, determine how many participants the solution can accommodate, how many participants can join remotely, and how you’ll facilitate live questions and comments. Also, consider how many live and video speakers you will have. Data security should also be taken into consideration when choosing your videoconferencing tool.
We recommend considering a platform with the most comprehensive features. Check out the platform’s interactive features to engage your remote attendees just like you do physical ones.
Your board technology matters, too! Consider features from your board portal that can help enhance the virtual attendee experience during your hybrid AGM, including Q&A sessions, live polls, calendar integrations, and virtual networking tables.
To plan and run a hybrid AGM, consider following these 7 steps:
The hybrid AGM will require your board to consider several questions. You will not know whether you can hold board meetings remotely based on your Articles of Incorporation, but these documents will tell you if board members can amend bylaws. A board with explicit bylaws may conduct meetings and vote remotely; those without must amend the bylaws.
Consider the following questions when making arrangements:
Ensure you know how your organization defines quorum. Sometimes, a quorum is defined in terms of members physically present, which can be a challenge for smaller boards.
You should consult your legal counsel for clarification or if your bylaws explicitly prohibit remote board meetings since state and provincial laws differ.
Consider how your board portal can help prepare directors and attendees ahead of your AGM. With Aprio’s board portal software, board packets can be created and distributed securely before the AGM so members can review their packages in advance. Security with end-to-end encryption is vital to keep sensitive company performance conversations confidential.
Additional features can enhance the remote attendee experience including Q&A sessions, live polls, calendar integrations, and virtual networking tables. Boards also need fast and easy access to documents during an AGM.
If board members need a refresher on how to use their board portal tools effectively, Aprio has you covered. We offer unlimited comprehensive training at any time, so your board is well-prepared. And if you need any technical support during your AGM, you’ll get responsive expert help from a former board administrator who truly gets the pressures of running an AGM.
You must notify your shareholders and stakeholders when you plan to hold a hybrid AGM. A hybrid AGM notice should include information about the date, time, duration, link for virtual attendees to attend, and the most relevant information about the meeting, like how to log in and access the event.
Explain how they can ask questions or participate. And if the video conferencing software isn’t working, explain the steps for getting technical support.
During the hybrid event, you should ensure board members who are presenting remotely know your expectations regarding wardrobe and meeting backgrounds. Of course, this depends on the nature of the company and the expected dress code during in-person meetings. Presenters should also dress in business casual rather than the casual clothing many work-from-home, or remote employees wear.
Moreover, remote presenters should be advised where to sit at home to provide shareholders with a distraction-free background. In some video conferencing software, you can customize the presenter’s video background for consistency.
A hybrid AGM enables attendees to participate in person and virtually, so creating a script that considers both groups is crucial.
As a result, in-person attendees can hear long speeches and talks without feeling overwhelmed, whereas remote participants may find listening to a long speech on a screen painful and exhausting. Keep both sets of attendees on board by avoiding long speeches. Attendees will remain engaged by incorporating breaks between sessions.
You should test your video conferencing solution before your meeting. Set up a practice presentation for directors who are new to virtual presentations. Teach them how to share screens, take questions, and mute them. Identifying an administrator who will manage the presentations and answer attendees’ questions is a good idea.
We suggest inviting some board members to participate in a mock shareholder meeting and provide feedback to the presenter. A practice run will allow board administrators to ensure that computers, cameras, and microphones work and troubleshoot any possible problems. Presenters should inform board administrators if they plan to use PowerPoint or other presentations.
If you want your hybrid annual general meetings to run smoothly, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. If a technical glitch interrupts your hybrid AGM, you should inform your attendees of alternate arrangements ahead of time. For a smooth event, record the most relevant speeches if they need to be distributed afterward.
Don’t forget to follow up with the virtual and in-person participants for valuable feedback.
AGMs require voting and Q&A sessions. Without a voting platform that can answer these critical questions automatically, it becomes difficult to find answers to them and tabulate ballots accurately, prone to mistakes. A robust electronic voting platform at any AGM with full features is essential to meet your unique voting requirements and secure voter data.
All participants must have an equal opportunity to participate in meetings, whether they are attending face to face or attending virtually. This helps any board maintain good governance.
It is essential to consider muting all participants as a default for virtual annual shareholder meetings. Administrators can unmute directors to allow them to speak or to encourage shareholders to ask questions via the chat function. A moderator can then field these questions to the appropriate members to answer.
Be sure to lock down your communication plan well before the AGM, and shareholders should be explained how to attend virtually and participate when invited to the meeting.
You need a board platform like Aprio to manage this with security protocols. It limits voting to those allowed to vote and enables them to vote anonymously, bringing in-person and virtual shareholders together to vote simultaneously using their tablets or smartphones.
There will always be participants who cannot attend your AGM. Consider issuing a press release that summarizes the key outcomes of your annual shareholder meeting. Some video conferencing software lets you automatically record a meeting or event when you create it. Alternatively, some boards choose to hire a videography team to professionally record their AGM event as they are experienced with capturing the meeting room or space for in-person and virtual participants.
Afterward, it’s best to post the recording and make it available for at least a year. Make all the questions and answers public as well. On-demand content offers longevity to your content and allows the AGM to be auditable in future.
Better board decisions come from strong board member engagement. Offering hybrid annual shareholder meetings to time-strapped board members and stakeholders can draw greater participation in key decisions.
Hybrid annual board meetings might take a little getting used to. Still, the technology to support hybrid meetings also makes board meeting preparation more convenient and helps keep directors informed wherever they are.
Ready to learn more about how board portal software can help with hybrid AGMs? Book a demo today – we’re happy to help.
One of our product specialists will give you a 30-min tour of our board management software
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