What to do when faced with organising a Virtual AGM

What to do when faced with organising a Virtual AGM or exceptional shareholder/stakeholder meeting for the first time! 

Many organisations including not for profits will have written into their constitutions the need to have Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Historically, these have taken place in person. Due largely to the pandemic, many organisations are now holding these virtually.  At HHc, we thought it would be helpful to share a few top tips with you to help you as you approach this task for the first time.

1) Your audience – what is the easiest way for your shareholders and key stakeholders to access the AGM virtually? Many of us have become well versed with virtual platforms – especially Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams. The benefits of using such platforms are also that they are low in price – affordability is a key issue for many organisers – and their security has been well tested. Also, the sign up/registration process needs to be straightforward. Whether you choose to use a platform like Eventbrite or manage it through email/diary invites – you need to make it as easy as possible. Eventbrite has the benefit of being free for organisers as long as the event is free. And again, your audience will likely be used to these tools.

2) Broadcast or interactive – how interactive do you want your AGM to be? Many of our clients when it comes to their AGMs, prefer to use a platform like Zoom webinar as it gives them great control over proceedings; especially when it comes to the degree of interaction from shareholders. They prefer to broadcast the first part of the proceedings and then use the Q&A function to manage the audience interaction. A few however, prefer to use a more open process with a platform like Zoom meetings where all participants can see and engage with each other on an equal footing throughout the AGM. If any voting needs to take place, this can be managed through the platform on an anonymous basis as well.

3) Affordability – one way to look at this is to think how much would it cost you to host the in person AGM (room rental, catering, staffing etc)? Then assign a similar budget to your virtual AGM. This is where we come in. Often clients find that they have some budget and would like to spend that budget on securing some professional resource to help them design, moderate and produce their AGM. In turn, allowing them to focus on their role in delivering their AGM content and engage with participants. 

4) Planning is key – from registration through to the delivery of the virtual AGM, detailed planning is required. This is true even more in the virtual than in the in-person space. A clear, concise agenda (absolute maximum 90 minutes with one break) with well briefed speakers, strong moderation (time-keeping is critical) and a strong producer managing the technical aspects will make all the difference. We can help here or alternatively you can look to fill these roles from within your team.

5) Practice, practice, practice – we recommend you organise at least one tech rehearsal (at least 10 days before) where all speakers join. This allows your speakers to understand the virtual AGM approach and the tech underpinning it. Crucially, it also allows you to iron out any issue they may have at their end with tech. We then recommend a dress rehearsal at least 48 hours before to ensure that all the sequencing flows smoothly and final issues are addressed.

In addition to designing, moderating and producing virtual AGMs and exceptional shareholder/stakeholder meetings, we also have experience of virtual public consultation events (eg contentious planning applications, launch nights, tradeshows, awards ceremonies and dinners) as well as of course a whole range of in person events. To learn more please check out www.haslerhillconsulting.co.uk or call James on or email james@haslerhillconsulting.co.uk. We would be delighted to discuss with you further.

James Hasler and Rebecca Hill are both principal consultants at HaslerHill Consulting, an organisation specialising in moderationfacilitation and curation of events, as well as as presentation skills and public speaking skills training. If you would like to learn more about the services they offer and how they can be of benefit to your business, please get in touch via the HaslerHill Consulting contact page or call +44(0) 7773 229909

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