When chairing a virtual annual general meeting (AGM), the Chair needs to place special care to make the meeting successful. Even participation, engaging presentation, and thorough discussion of critical company issues are only a few of the many elements that have to be ensured. Here are the best practices for how to chair a virtual annual shareholder meeting.
Prepare for the Meeting
Being prepared is critical to attaining the necessary level of confidence and professionalism during a virtual meeting. Like in any other meeting, chairing a virtual AGM requires you to prepare well also so that it’s easier to keep the attendees engaged.
Create a detailed agenda and distribute it to shareholders with adequate advance. Go over the agenda and the meeting script at least a few times to feel more comfortable once the meeting is live. There might be little time and opportunity for improvisation.
In the days to hours before the meeting, check if the technology solution implemented for the AGM is working well. You can run a test meeting to see whether everything is in order. Also, make sure you know how to use the technology picked for hosting the digital meeting.
It’s useful to have the know-how about common and basic problems. This will save time to fix minor issues, which is especially handy if reaching support would take additional minutes.
Should complicated technical issues arise, have a tech support line for shareholders—both to troubleshoot before and during the meeting.
Remember to check your hardware: the Internet connection, microphone, video equipment.
Adopt Formal Rules of Conduct
Just as formal rules of conduct bind attendees during in-person meetings, the same rules should govern when chairing a virtual AGM.
Organizers should distribute document with rules of conduct should among shareholders in advance. It should also be available during the meeting for reference.
The guidelines should specify how questions are processed. Therefore, establish timelines and time limits for questions and answers as well as proposal presentations and post-meeting discussions.
The rules should also maintain and ensure a high degree of fairness in how questions are recognized. This is so that all shareholder questions and answers are equally addressed and presented.
Have a documented system describing how the questions are queued and when the questions are ruled out of order. For example, established question queue rules should let all shareholders ask questions in an ordered manner. If any of the shareholders have an additional question to the one already asked, you should allow them only after all other shareholders had a chance to participate. Similarly, if there are questions or comments unrelated to currently discussed matters, you may rule them out of order.
Tips on Hosting the Meeting
Open up the meeting by introducing yourself. Briefly recap the instructions on how to ask questions, vote, and initiate discussions.
Take adequate pauses when presenting to let the attendees digest information.
Speak slowly and clearly so that the audience understands better. Whenever there are questions, you can read them aloud to cue the attendees for a response.
Follow the agenda. Don’t change the order at the last minute. Some shareholders might sign in only for specific sections in the agenda.
When hosting the meeting, ensure equal and even participation during the meeting, especially for question and answer sessions. From the technical point of view, you can achieve this by giving participants enough pre-session time to test their connection and familiarize themselves with the meeting platform.
Facilitate meaningful engagement between all attendees. The dialogue should be open and inclusive. Recognize that remote meetings should enable the same degree of participation among attendees as in-person meetings. The ultimate goal of a virtual shareholder meeting is to broaden attendee engagement, never limit or obstruct it.
- Remove distractions. Make sure no background noise would be interfering with the meeting. Mute your phone and any sources of interference to ensure that you won’t be disturbed while the meeting is on.
- Prepare your meeting environment accordingly. Turn on all necessary devices and ready them ahead of the scheduled meeting time.
- Take extra care to visual cues that support your presentation to keep attendees engaged.
- Let everyone speak and participate evenly.
- Keep a recording of the meeting for future reference. The archived meeting should be available for viewing at least for a year.
Virtual Shareholder Meetings
Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual AGMs let shareholders tackle important company-related issues and vote on critical decisions without delay. Successfully chairing a virtual AGM means being able to communicate remotely with high-level effectiveness in order to move the organization forward. Learn more about AGM software and how to run shareholder meetings securely and conveniently.