The popularity of online AGMs was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, when governments around the world brought in restrictions on gatherings in early 2020, what had been an exciting development for meeting planning became a necessity in order for organisations to be able to carry out their governance duties.
The AGM seasons in 2020 and 2021 sawmajor adoption of virtual AGMs. For example, the French, Luxembourgish, Icelandic and Italian governments allowed fully virtual AGMs for the first time, with 100% of major index companies in France and Iceland holding their meetings completely online during the lockdown period.
The necessity of remote working during the pandemic has led to arise in employees continuing to work from homeor in a hybrid format. However, now the restrictions have been lifted, the uptake of virtual AGMs looks set to continue its upward trajectory.
This article explains the differences between hybrid, virtual and physical AGMs as well as the benefits of each format. You will also discover how to prepare for a virtual or hybrid general meeting.
Different AGM formats
Virtual AGMs take place entirely online. Presenters, speakers, board members, shareholders and other stakeholders log in to a webinar platform that offers the ability to raise questions and cast votes.
Reduced venue hire, travel and accommodation costs
Lower carbon footprint due to lack of travel
Greater reach to attendeeswho might not be able to attend an in-person event due to location, time constraints or other restrictions
Engagement tools on the platform allow all attendees to interact, even if they might not be comfortable speaking in a physical environment
Digital voting provides transparency and an audit trail.
WithhybridAGMs, the organisation hosts the AGM in a physical location and some shareholders can attend in person, but there is also a virtual element that allows for remote attendance. Virtual attendees should enjoy the same experience and opportunities as those in the room.
Many of the same benefits as virtual AGMs
Reduced venue hire costs as you do not need as large a room as for fully physical events
Flexibility for attendees to choose their favoured attendance option
Flexibility for organisations to transition smoothly to fully virtual AGMs in the future, if necessary.
Physical AGMs take place in a particular venue at a set time, with no online engagement. One reason companies might opt for a fully physical AGM is if shareholders are concerned that the platform a company uses to host a virtual event does not allow for voting or asking questions during the event. Where issuers ask for questions in advance, there can be suspicions that they might filter them before putting them to executives.
This is why companies should seek out anonline AGM platformthat allows for interaction as if the virtual attendees were in the room.
Prepare for AGM season
AGMs take a lot of preparation and hard work, and it is essential to host a professional, interactive and engaging event to ensure the issuer and investors benefit from the meeting. Here are some tips for creating effective AGMs.
Keep an eye on legislation
Each jurisdiction has its own rules about whether to allow online AGMs and, if so, how they must run. By making sure you understand what the legislation says in the territories in which you are present, you can remain compliant.
Choose the right solution
Creating an engaging virtual or hybrid AGM requires specialist software. It is not enough to simply point a webcam at a live meeting. You need a platform that will offer interaction and provide the same experience for remote attendees as for those in the venue.
Maintain contact with shareholders
Ensure you add details of the attendance options in your meeting notice and be in contact to help investors understand how to access the online aspect of your AGM. Open the lines of communication for questions and support.
Make it a collaborative experience
It is important that remote attendees can ask questions during the meeting to hold directors to account. But you can also use interactive features such as comment walls and virtual polls to increase engagement with attendees.
Ways an IR CRM can boost investor engagement
There are huge benefits to both issuer and investor of holding AGMs in a fully virtual or hybrid manner. From increasing the potential reach of the meeting to cutting carbon and contributing towards yourESG goals, you can create engaging and successful events.
However, using the right software is essential. You must be able to provide the same rights for your online audience that your physical attendees receive. Choose Company Webcast to host your online AGM and benefit from interactive features, professional visuals and audio, and advanced technology to handle the volume of web traffic.Request a demoto find out how it can work for you.