How to Bring Your Annual Meetings Into 2020

The year 2020 is less than two months away, which means it’s time to get planning your next annual general meeting (AGM). For many years, holding a physical meeting was the only option. However, as technology has become increasingly ubiquitous in everyday life, it’s essential for companies to keep up with investor expectations and deliver an engaging online experience. 

This includes a great website experience, an interactive online annual report, and the option to attend events virtually. As webcast and video integration becomes more sophisticated, it’s never been easier to create an immersive online experience for people who want to attend your meeting(s) from afar. According to ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report, 88% of survey respondents are leveraging webcast video as a part of their communications strategy and 76% say webcasts enable them to reach more people.

Here are some ways you can make sure your annual general meeting is staying ahead of trends.

Pre-event

Understand who has voting rights

Identify and interact with shareholders that are not immediately visible on the register by leveraging services like Shareholder ID. Completed around 6 weeks before your meeting, it provides valuable insight on who will be attending, as well as any changes or patterns within your shareholder base. This information can be used to better craft your messaging and highlight specific initiatives that will resonate with your shareholders. 

Select an interactive online tool 

The Q&A portion of your AGM is a critical component for gathering shareholder sentiment and feedback. Make sure to provide any virtual meeting attendees with the capability to ask questions directly in the webcast portal. Q&As are the most popular interactivity tool, with 82% of ON24 survey respondents choosing this tool to engage with their attendees. Social media sits in second place at 35%, so if your provider does not offer this feature, consider creating an event hashtag on Twitter that people can follow to ask questions. 

Promote your virtual AGM to shareholders

Let all your shareholders know that you’ll be providing the opportunity to attend virtually to help increase attendance. In 2018, Broadridge hosted close to 300 virtual shareholder meetings (VSMs) and saw great success by inviting their investors to join them online instead of in-person. “Shareholders can participate by viewing meetings, listening to discussions, asking questions and voting their shares, all with secure technology and without the cost and time to attend in person,” says Cathy Conlon, Broadridge’s vice president of issuer strategy, in a statement. “Companies holding a VSM have shown increased shareholder participation at their annual meetings and this is particularly helpful for individuals who have time or economic constraints, and those who live geographically far from the meeting but would like to participate.”

Post your annual report online

An online annual report allows you to be more accessible to your online and global audience. You can create a fulsome online experience using video, interactive charts and graphs, and better UI – providing your investors with a full and customizable understanding of your company’s performance, vision, and future strategy. Providing you annual report online, along with any other related materials, is quickly becoming a best practice, as ON24 found that 69% of all webinars in 2019 offered resources for attendees to download or engage. So make sure any digital documents are available and easily accessible. 

The day of your event

Conduct online voting or polling

Depending on your company bylaws, you may choose to take advantage of online voting. Your webcast provider can help to embed a link to your proxy voting site on the webcast portal, making voting easy for virtual attendees. When it comes to polling, many webcast providers offer an easy-to-use function that allows you to control and monitor polling. This helps to simplify the collection of shareholder feedback or sentiment, outside of voting. 

Post-event 

Check webcast analytics

Once your AGM is complete, you can measure the engagement of virtual attendees by checking the percentage of who downloaded content, submitted questions, and answered polls. Not only will this provide insight on how engaged your audience is, but it can also indicate the topics that are top of mind for shareholders and empower your team to action accordingly. You will also want to check on-demand viewing rates, which have been on the rise. ON24 found that 36% of people who registered for an online event viewed it on-demand instead of live. 

Technology can be a low-cost method of increasing the variety, quality, and frequency of communications with your shareholders. With 90% of adults in the UK using the internet weekly, there’s an opportunity for companies to engage their investors outside of in-person meetings. Download our list of Top Tactics for Improving the Annual General Meeting Experience as a quick reference to the items we’ve listed above, in addition to a few more tactics that you can incorporate into your 2020 planning. 

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