To ensure your virtual AGM runs smoothly and professionally, it’s essential to get your format and agenda clear before you start planning the content.
While the Federal Government is legislating to permanently allow virtual AGMs in place of face-to-face meetings, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission announced in March 2021 it would continue to support the holding of virtual and hybrid AGMs in the post-COVID environment.
But the corporate regulator was clear that all virtual or hybrid AGMs must provide a “reasonable opportunity” for members to effectively participate by commenting, asking questions and voting at the meeting.
To make sure your virtual AGM measures up, it’s critical, once you have your shareholders online, to make sure they can follow the agenda, hear all your speakers, and access all your information and interactive elements, such as voting online.
Among the key issues to consider are:
1. Determine your moderator
Consider who will moderate your AGM. It’s good practice to have someone other than your chairman running the event and introducing all the speakers, leaving them free to focus on the message they’re delivering.
A good moderator will ensure all shareholders are aware of where you are in the meeting, who’s speaking and what’s coming up, as well as being able to help keep speakers on track and shareholders engaged.
Your moderator will need to be well-versed in how to use your online AGM event platform to move slides and keep the event to time.
They may also handle comments or questions — although you may wish to involve others to help pass live questions to the moderator.
Alternatively, if your chair intends to moderate the event, ensure they have adequate training in how to conduct a virtual AGM effectively — including how to use your chosen technology platform to take questions and polls if required.
2. Decide where your moderator and speakers will be based
Where your moderator and speakers are based will vary depending on whether your AGM is hybrid (partly face-to-face and partly virtual) or completely online.
During local COVID-19 related lockdowns, traditional face-to-face virtual AGMs with shareholders attending may not be possible, but some organisations may choose to present from their office or an external venue.
Other options include presenting from a broadcast studio, presenting remotely from each speaker’s home location, or a mixture of the above.
Attendees must be able to dial in remotely, of course, to access the event, assuming they’re unable or unwilling to attend in person, so it’s essential that whichever format you choose, you offer sufficient tech support to both speakers and attendees to ensure the event runs smoothly.
3. Determine your presentation format
Your presentation options for a virtual AGM include slides and audio or video and slides but it’s not quite as simple as determining which presentation aesthetic you prefer.
First, determine whether video is a suitable option by conducting a broadband speed test at the location where each of your presenters will be based to ascertain if the internet connection is stable enough to produce a reliable video feed.
If internet quality isn’t great, you may wish to opt for audio and slides.
Another option is to incorporate a telephone dial-in option via a combined teleconference and web- or video-conference. Ask your virtual event platform provider what they offer.
Read our setup and planning tips for Virtual AGMs here
4. Confirm your opportunities for shareholder participation
It’s good practice to confirm for all shareholders and presenters what the opportunities for shareholder participation will be in advance of the AGM, as well as during the event itself.
For example, how will you handle voting? Will you allow proxy voting? How will votes be tabulated? When will the outcomes be announced? Talk to your virtual event platform provider about what they offer.
Your moderator should flag at the beginning of the meeting when and how shareholders will be able to participate, including using a variety of interactive features, such as chat and live poll voting.
5. Plan for any breaks in proceedings
If you expect there will be breaks in proceedings — for example for votes to be counted — it’s a great idea to pre-record some video or audio that you can play to keep shareholders engaged while they wait to hear the outcome.
If you’re using a managed virtual AGM service, your producer will be able to play the video or the audio while you work behind the scenes to create a seamless, highly professional experience for all shareholders and members.
Go through these 5 steps and you’ll be sure to conduct your virtual AGM with as much professionalism and ease as a face-to-face event.