In 2020, it’s not as easy as it once was for organisations to hold an AGM that gives all stakeholders an equal chance to attend.
In Australia, the Corporations Act determines how you must hold your AGM, with a requirement for listed companies to hold an AGM within 18 months of registration, and at least once a year.
Specific documents must be presented, including: the annual financial report, the directors’ report, and the auditor’s report, and the AGM also provides an opportunity for investors and stakeholders to question the board.
If your organisation operates nationally, or throughout Australia and New Zealand, crossing state and national borders is a huge problem in the era of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even if your state currently has open borders, there’s no guarantee that won’t change suddenly, depending on COVID-19 transmission levels.
Limits on the number of people that can attend physical gatherings persist in order to reduce risks associated with spreading the virus at face-to-face events.
There is also the additional planning needed to create a safe and secure environment, with adequate social distancing, safe and secure registration and voting procedures, and low-risk catering arrangements. The most important considerations are to provide members with the opportunity to be fully informed about the organisation’s operations, to participate as much as possible (including the option to ask questions live, to provide comment or participate in debate during the AGM), and to vote via poll technology.
Stakeholders with unstable broadband connections, those who are mobile or on the road, and members who may be based in rural and regional areas must have an equal right to participate, not only by following proceedings, but also by having the ability to comment, ask questions and, of course, to vote.
Many organisations are turning to virtual AGMs to make their most important annual meeting more accessible than ever.
Here are some of our top recommendations for ensuring all your stakeholders have an equal chance to participate in your virtual AGM:
- Go live online:Live-stream the event using virtual conferencing or webinar technology to provide all stakeholders and board members with the opportunity to attend the event, no matter where they’re located — keeping travel costs down and avoiding COVID-related travel and safety issues.
- Offer a teleconference:Include an integrated audio teleconference service so mobile or regional and rural stakeholders that may not be able to connect via broadband can dial in by phone.
- Opt for local support:Provide a 1800-number and local assistance online so that any attendees that may be having trouble connecting on the day can access technical support.
- Prioritise security:Ensure you select a technology platform which is secure, to ensure only registered attendees can access the event and vote.
- Offer proxy voting:Proxy voting enables participants to cast votes in advance. You will need to speak with your technology provider as to whether they allow proxy voting.
- Assign your roles:Have a moderator, speakers and someone to monitor voting and questions over internal chat to ensure the agenda stays on track, all questions are given equal attention, important issues are addressed, and voting runs smoothly.
- Broadcast from a studio:Film your AGM from a broadcast webinar studio with built-in redundancy and technical support for a professional, business-like look and feel, and an additional level of technical production support on the day.
- Pre-record some video:To maximise the professional look and feel of your event among your audience of stakeholders, members and investors — and to provide some variety for viewers — you may wish to pre-record the chair’s address. It’s also a good idea to record a snippet about an important upcoming initiative to play so your audience has something to watch while voting is counted.
- Train your speakers:Train presenters and speakers on the platform you’re using and test the broadband connection of any remote presenters ahead of time to ensure stability.
- Test your format:Do a dry run with all the technology running to ensure familiarity with questions, comments and voting mechanisms during the event, and also to check that the agenda flows well.
- Make it available on demand:For anyone that is unable to attend at the live time, make a video of the event available online on your website so they can watch it whenever it suits them.
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About Redback Connect
Redback Connect provides tele, web and video conferencing services to help teams communicate and collaborate. They also design and deliver digital events, including webinars and studio broadcasts, from concept to completion.