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We thought it apt then, to put together this ultimate guide to hosting your AGM. We’ll provide advice on everything from choosing a platform to the steps you need to have in place to make yours a successful one.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid AGMs were an increasingly popular option. It means that a physical meeting still happens, but members who cannot attend can either join remotely or place their votes online. Hybrid AGMs represent the best of both worlds, offering a combination of in-room attendees and online participants. This can be a good alternative for those who cannot make it to a physical meeting but still want their voices heard in a transparent fashion.
With the current global pandemic forcing most large numbers to work from home, virtual meetings/events have certain advantages over hybrid ones. One of the most significant benefits of a virtual meeting is access for all shareholders, no matter where they are, without worrying about geographic barriers or participation costs.
Virtual AGMs offer a more convenient way for shareholders to participate and vote from home - with no need for travel. Since participants can join in from anywhere, a virtual AGM is a permanent solution to a big problem.
The switch to virtual AGMs has already begun, and you can expect the adoption to continue at a rapid pace. Most governments are on board with the idea as well. In 2009, the UK government adjusted the Companies Act 2006, allowing businesses to hold virtual or hybrid shareholder meetings. The London Stock Exchange also pushed for AGMs to be held online to solve the lockdown problems.
If you like the idea, first consider if meeting online will be accepted as a format for conducting an AGM in your organisation. It is recommended to seek legal counsel to ensure a virtual AGM will meet all necessary requirements as per the latest corporate governance rules.
A virtual AGM follows all the rules of a standard AGM. Shareholders are given a chance to have their say during the meeting by voting on key company operations (e.g. board appointments, compensations) and discussions besides asking questions.
During the meeting, attendees outline critical information such as annual performance, goals and strategy. The rundown includes a discussion on several issues while highlighting opportunities for growth that will be seized upon if they arise.
The meeting is entirely online. All the discussions, elections, and resolutions are conducted virtually. You’ll still have the same physical discussions and voting processes as always; it’s just that all communication will happen through a virtual event platform and conferences instead of face-to-face meetings.
To put it simply, online AGMs are held through digital channels (video conferencing apps or AGM platforms) - no physical location, no contact. Additionally, all organisations must record these virtual meetings as they are legal proceedings.
The annual general shareholder meeting is a chance for shareholders to hear about important issues from the board and offer their feedback. This can include questions that were not answered during previous sessions and an opportunity to air any concerns or confusions brought up by other participants.
If you’ve ever felt like your AGM was single-sided, or there wasn’t enough opportunity for questions, virtual annual general meetings can help businesses keep true to their mission by giving all stakeholders an equal chance for questions, suggestions and debate.
In most ways, Virtual AGMs often prove to be more effective than even the traditional option. This is because online meetings can hold the true purpose of this important event—discussing business issues with all stakeholders and getting their opinions using clever tech to get real time data on how best to handle the problems that will arise in the future.
To ensure a smooth experience, assign diverse roles to your team members and have them handle various areas during a virtual AGM. Here’s a list below for common job descriptions, depending on what needs you have:
The right virtual AGM platform can make all the difference. There are many options, from free-to-use video apps to specialised software for virtual AGMs. For convenience, let us focus on the seven most relevant ones.
An all in one, end-to-end solution for running a virtual / hybrid AGM
You can use Eventcube to host your next secure Virtual AGM (even a beginner.) There are essential features like voting capabilities, document sharing, attendance tracking and auditing. You also get the option to download all the reports offline.
Eventcube stands out because it has the most user-friendly and feature rich interface. It’s fully customisable so it can completely match your brand, plus you can take advantage of audience analytics to understand your attendees. Eventcube’s usage flexibility is an excellent asset as well. The bespoke functionality can help produce meetings that are adapted to your requirements.
Eventcube support is well-known to be responsive. So if you need something specific for your needs or you encounter a few quirks, they will be ironed out rather quickly. The customer support team is happy to accommodate requests at all times. The platform is generally regarded as easy to use and readily adopted by even the most non-technical people.
Book a demo with Eventcube to find out more.
Pricing* - The pricing plans start free, with all the access and added benefits on the Pro package (46 USD/mo) when you need more.
Zoom has been the most popular remote video meetings and conferences software during this entire pandemic. It is a trustworthy option for video, audio and connection quality. The app allows up to 100 pax for 40 mins for free. Zoom meetings, a more specialised version, can support up to 1000 participants on a paid plan.
Participants can share their screens with the audience, take notes and draw on a whiteboard. It also enables attendance checks with just one click of your mouse.
Zoom’s polling feature is also a great way to keep your meeting on track and ensure that all participants feel like they have had an opportunity for input. You can create up to 25 polls per session, which provides enough flexibility. You can see the results live as they come in or create a report after the meeting is completed. With the ability to split into 50 separate breakout rooms, participants can have more intimate discussions with their peers.
Zoom webinar is a specialised version of Zoom with everything you need for conducting a virtual AGM. It allows 10,000 people to join in. The software is ideal for larger audiences with features like screen share, attendance reporting, recording meetings, e.g. Participants will join in a listen-only mode. This means they will automatically be muted when they enter the meeting.
Participants can ask questions anonymously, upvote content and even answer each others’ queries. The data you need to make informed decisions is right at your fingertips, with an option to download reports on attendee registration details, the participant information and more for further analysis. All these features make it a decent pick for conducting an online AGM.
Pricing* - Zoom is available for free with paid plans for meetings starting at US$14.99/host/month. Zoom webinars start at $40/host/month.
Cisco offers a popular video conferencing app that provides secure, encrypted conferences with up to 100 participants in HD quality. There is an option for screen sharing among users with 100% recording capabilities—without the high price tag of other apps on the market.
It is an excellent tool for large groups of people who need to interact in real-time. The paid version allows up to 1000 participants, no time limits and all of the features, including voting, recordings, note-taking, regular chat, e.g.
The meeting host can download records of all attendees. There’s an option to integrate other third-party apps for sharing and signing files, making it a useful software for conducting virtual AGMs.
Pricing* - The paid plan for the Webex meetings starts at US$13.50/host/ month.
GoToMeeting can hold virtual or hybrid AGM with 250 participants on the paid plan. The free version only allows for 40-minute meetings and three people at a time, but it’s still worth checking out.
The meetings you schedule are always saved on the cloud, so your team can always come back and review the recordings. You can also share a document or presentation with others in real-time during the meeting.
With the ability to control guest access, GoToMeeting is software that excels at presenting. However, it does not have an in-built voting feature, so you’ll need another application if that’s what you’re after.
Pricing* - GoToMeeting starts at US$12/organiser/month.
GoToWebinar is the sister application of GoToMeeting. It is a competent webinar software that supports up to 3000 participants. There are no time limits on sessions, so you’re free to conduct your meeting as long as necessary.
With GoToWebinar, participants can listen in on your meeting through the phone. There is an option for custom branding, in addition to the basic features for conducting a virtual AGM. You can also use the app to send automated email reminders and invitations, sync your contacts databases with other CRM software systems, or even import them manually.
GoToWebinar allows a limited file-sharing of 5 files per session. You can simply upload your files, and all of your participants will download them during the session. As you can notice, there are a variety of features that make GoToWebinar perfect for AGMs. For example, all audience members can vote, and the results are displayed either publicly or kept private according to preference.
Pricing* - GoToWebinar starts at US$49 /organiser/month.
Lumi is an online platform known for its easy to use voting system using mobile phones. It is a popular option for companies in the UK.
Lumi allows you to register your attendees in real-time. That way, you can generate an accurate and auditable quorum count. The software also makes it easy to manage real-time weighted voting, split votes or “one man, one vote” requirements.
Here’s the best part. You can tailor the meeting environment to suit your needs with branded elements like logos and colours. The platform is scalable for various needs, including localisation with multiple language support. Lumi virtual AGM service comes with the option of an experienced on-site technician to provide complete peace of mind. All in all, Lumi is a good option for organisations trying to facilitate virtual AGMs.
Pricing* - Lumi does not provide exact pricing details. You can contact them directly for a custom quote.
Aventri’s all-inclusive event platform offers digital, hybrid and physical events. With Aventri’s virtual occasion management technology, hosts can create digital events of all kinds and collect all the event attendee statistics.
From registration, event advertising and mission management—these features are all included. You can manage risk and reduce costs while driving efficiency with a streamlined workflow.
Aventri provides custom branding for any type or size business with versatile services depending on how much is needed. The software also offers a fully branded experience from your website pages to your email communication—perfect for increasing engagement.
Pricing* - Aventri does not provide detailed pricing details. You can contact them directly for a custom quote.
Security - Virtual AGM platforms deploy security measures to prevent unauthorised third parties from accessing meetings. There’s no chance that you’ll ever be hacked or lose your data. With options like two-factor authentication (2FA), secure clouds for data storage and intrusion detection tools, your virtual meetings will stay safe at all times. To ensure the best service, remember that it’s essential to research various providers. Look at their technical features and quality of security before making your choice.
Cost - With most virtual AGM software, you can choose what you want. Look for providers that offer individually tailored packages and avoid paying extra fees for features you won’t use.
Easy registration - The chosen AGM software should securely authenticate your shareholders or members into the meeting with unique credentials. Check if a provider offers a streamlined online registration process from anywhere on any device.
Voting - The software should allow your shareholders or members to vote on each resolution individually and all at once. This will enable users to choose how they want their voice heard. For instance, members should be able to vote on resolutions using e-polling, which is completed in real-time and captured electronically.
Managed Q&A - When selecting a virtual AGM provider, you want the latest features to ensure a smooth transition between speakers and their presentations. There should also be a chance for moderation before questions are published.
Customisation - The virtual AGM software should suit your company’s needs with an option to improve the logos and colours explicitly tailored towards your preferred meeting environment.
Collaboration - When collaborating on paper, it is easy to miss important contributions and questions. However, you can solve this problem with an active document sharing facility through your AGM software, as everyone has instant access without anyone being left the out-of-the conversation.
Reporting and data export features - The software should help compile polls and minutes for proceedings helps keep records available for internal or external audits to conduct business confidently.
The virtual format is a great way to conduct voting because it’s more efficient and removes potential bias from panelists. It is better than “show of hands.” The results provide a more accurate and quantifiable reflection of how the company is perceived by its shareholder base. Many investors find these surveys helpful in making decisions about their investments.
When it comes to emergencies, the virtual AGM format offers a level of flexibility that companies can’t achieve with traditional methods. This was demonstrated during COVID-19 and will be increasingly important in future global responses.
After switching to virtual AGMs, some organisations have seen participation rates double or triple. Even with the virus out of our way, there’s no telling what will happen to how we work. There is no evidence that online meetings will decline or even slow down.
Looking towards the future, virtual AGMs are sure to become a trend that will pick up. Therefore, a secure, convenient, and reliable AGM platform is a critical need for the hour. Before making a choice:
The Eventcube platform offers customisable virtual meeting space for holding your next AGM. You are welcome to book a free demo here.
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