We live in a world that is increasingly a combination of the physical and the virtual – we can watch a film at the cinema or download it from Netflix, pick up a newspaper or read it online. This hybrid world is becoming more common in the world of annual meetings.
At a traditional members meeting, members can meet the board, hear their view of the year just past and hold them to account in person. Then there are virtual meetings, which are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the United States. They are conducted entirely via an online platform that allows participants to take part electronically, without having to visit the annual meetings physical location.
Hybrid AGM combine these two approaches, allowing people to attend the meeting in person, as well as having members attending remotely, online. This allows the greatest possible number of people to take part, increasing attendance and engagement while cutting the cost, time and inconvenience of attending meetings.
Hybrid meetings open up your organization to the online generation of millennial consumers, who expect a digital option for everything they do without alienating older generations who prefer to turn up in person.
But while a hybrid annual meeting opens up new possibilities, the basics of arranging the meeting remain the same. It’s important that a remote attendee can participate in the meeting fully, so there are several points that need due consideration, in order for this to happen.
From the notice of meeting, to the live streaming, voting and Q&A, our Hybrid AGM Checklist makes sure you consider how all the key elements of your meeting would work, to make sure your smart meeting goes as smoothly as your previous in-room meetings.
The AGM season is almost here and listed companies all over the world are gearing up for their annual shareholder meetings. The AGM is a big moment for companies – one of the main opportunities to communicate with shareholders and tell them how the business is performing – so it’s important to get it right. Here are some of the key issues to consider when planning your event.
The Power of Place
It’s important to get your venue right and you need to start planning this as soon as possible. You’re not the only one looking for the ideal AGM location and the best venues get booked up early.
People may be travelling from far afield, so it is important that the meeting is easy to get to. The business district is the best place to start. It will be easy to get to, with good transport links, and to have a good supply of potential venues.
When it comes to the room itself, it depends on how big an AGM you are holding – and what your budget is. Make sure you visit the venue beforehand to check there are no unanticipated problems such as last-minute building work going on or restricted views for large parts of the audience.
Don’t forget to consider your technical requirements, especially if you are having any kind of audio visual production, or if you are considering streaming your AGM to remote attendees.
Notice of Meeting
Of course, once the venue is finalised, you already know that you need to send a Notice of Meeting. If you are holding a hybrid AGM, where you are allowing shareholders or guests to join the meeting from a remote location, then you will need to include the user name and password details, so the remote participants can authenticate themselves in to the meeting at the appropriate time.
An increasing number of AGM are becoming technologically-enabled. If that’s the case, you need to ensure that your chosen venue can cope with the demands of the technology, be that audio, video streaming or other technological innovations. More and more meetings are being live-streamed on the internet, allowing a much wider audience of investors, staff and other stakeholders to take part and see what is going on even if they can’t get there in person.
Say Hello to Hybrid
Hybrid AGM allow people either to attend in person or take part remotely. If you’re going to be live-streaming the event as part of a hybrid AGM, you need to know that the venue’s internet facilities are capable of supporting that and that there are staff on site to support you in the event of any problems. These could be the venue’s conference staff or they may be from your conference technology organizer.
You also need to consider whether to use conference technology for other aspects of the AGM, such as registration, and the Q&A section. What about voting? There is an increasing trend towards dematerialisation with organizations replacing paper poll cards with digital technology.
Whether you’ve experienced stratospheric growth that has launched you onto investors’ radar, or have just gone public and are dealing with shareholders for the first time, you need an investor relations strategy. Expert support is really useful. If you don’t have your own IR department, consider securing the services of a good IR consultant to help you manage relations with your shareholders.
How we can help
With declining shareholder numbers being a trend across the globe, together with the rise of the digital age, Issuers are putting a stronger focus on using technology to create new ways to engage with their shareholders.
Hybrid AGMs are becoming more and more common amongst businesses and organizations of all sizes and in all industries. As the workforce becomes more digitally adept and a renewed focus is placed on inclusivity and accessibility, virtual options for attendance, voting and giving feedback become more necessary.
However, not every organization is instantly sold on the idea of a Hybrid AGM. As we speak to companies and associations around the globe, the same five concerns surface again and again. However, these concerns are simply myths about Hybrid AGMs, and it’s important to have all the facts before deciding if a hybrid option is right for your meeting.
MYTH #1: Planning both an in-person option and a virtual option takes too much time
Admittedly, it does take consideration and planning to effectively create a Hybrid AGM that feels seamless for both online and in-person attendees. However, it’s not true that Hybrid AGMs take more time overall. In fact, they can save time for organizers, especially after the event, when vote counting and engagement insights are instantly available for virtual attendees. Even in the run-up to the event, Hybrid AGMs can take less time if your virtual options are supported by your existing meeting technology partner.
MYTH #2: Allowing voting in two different formats creates too much margin for error
While the idea of reconciling online and in-room votes seems like it may cause problems, using a single platform that works across all stages of your meeting can actually lessen the margin of error when it comes to voting and measuring engagement. This is especially true when voting technology is used at the Hybrid AGMs, making the possibility of error extremely low compared to paper ballots and show-of-hand voting.
MYTH #3: Hybrid AGMs aren’t secure enough for my organization’s needs
We’ve written a lot about how secure Hybrid AGMs can be, some of which can be found here. However, the simple fact is that virtual options are often more secure than in-person options and easier to govern. Click here to learn more about security at Hybrid AGMs.
MYTH #4: Virtual attendees will be less engaged than in-person attendees
A common myth about virtual attendees is that they have chosen the digital option because they aren’t as engaged as members that take the time to turn up in person. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. From the cost and distance of travel to accessibility issues, there are a myriad of genuine reasons that people struggle to attend AGMs and would therefore prefer a virtual option.
The truth is that those who choose the virtual option are those who would otherwise have been unlikely to attend at all. Including them actually results in a more engaged organization, where all members feel valued and included in important matters.
MYTH #5: Virtual options will negatively impact the in-person experience
On the other hand, however, for many organizations considering a Hybrid AGM, their primary concern is how digital options might affect the in-person experience, especially for the board. Will the in-person attendees feel the intrusion of the technology required to accommodate virtual attendees? Will the flow of the event be interrupted for the sake of those attending online?
Luckily, these concerns can be easily addressed with the right event technology partner. Technology has become such an important part of modern meetings that the additional functionality of a Hybrid AGM goes largely unnoticed by everyone except those whom it benefits. Non-invasive technology solutions allow the in-person event to carry on as planned with little to no interruption, while virtual attendees enjoy a similarly seamless experience.
To learn more about how Lumi creates these environments, click here to get in touch with a member of our team.
Hybrid Technology is specifically designed to help improve the meeting as a whole, therefore it is not disruptive to the in-room attendees; in fact, alongside using in-room technology such as Audience Response, it has been shown to improve engagement, attentiveness and perception of the organization.
The core essence of hybrid technology is to create a more inclusive meeting that allows everyone to get involved while simultaneously removing barriers to attendance such as travel or time. Therefore, all of the attendees in-room are passionate to be there creating a more positive experience at the event while still allowing everyone to attend.
Making sure hybrid meetings have effective data security is second to none, therefore we have ensured there is a range of measures put into place to keep the data safe.
Therefore our hybrid technology uses modern, industry-standard encryption techniques to ensure data protection. Thus allowing for the safety of all personal data used and stored for the meetings.
Ensuring your hybrid meeting is secure is of the utmost importance and hybrid technology is an area that has received a lot of attention. Security is critical to hosting a successful Hybrid event and a meeting’s integrity depends on both the certainty and security of the identification of shareholders/members and access to this secure list, to ensure these virtual participants are who they claim to be.
Furthermore, hybrid meetings are instantly audited and everything is recorded, giving a complete objective record of the meeting, pinpointing exactly what each member did, including abstentions.
Anyone has the Ability to Attend
A traditional meeting requires their attendees to physically be at the location on the set day/s they are held, however this isn’t always achievable for everyone who wants to attend and often leads to increased proxy voting. An annual meeting isn’t just for the business or organization, it is a chance for all stakeholders and members to get involved and have their say.
Anyone Can Speak
The classic format of an annual meeting leans more towards the vocal members of a group and doesn’t cater well for people who don’t feel comfortable raising issues or questions in front of a large room of people, especially if the point is controversial.
Less Margin for Error
With some of the votes being automatically and electronically logged instantly there is much less margin for error, as opposed to the classic hand raise or ballot boxes of old.
Having some (or even all) of the votes done electronically either in the building via audience response technology or using online voting tools for the remote attendees, it saves a vast amount of time and counts votes instantly.
Improve Engagement with Younger Demographics
Understanding and opting the technology-heavy world we live in is vital to the success of your future annual meetings, not adapting and evolving your meeting is a sure-fire way to decrease engagement and lower attendence or member retention (In the case of membership organizations).
Hybrid meetings have a plethora of benefits from removing attendance barriers, to higher involvement and improved transparency. On top of these factors, a hybrid meeting increases the efficiency with an easy, secure and audited format for your meeting, reducing the overall time and removing potential efficiency affecting issues.
At Lumi, we are committed to helping membership organizations and companies improve their meetings with our technology, expertise and facilitation; as an industry leader we have helped countless clients host successful, secure and smooth Hybrid meetings.
If you are interested in holding a Hybrid meeting for your organization we'd love to hear from you, contact our team here: https://www.lumiglobal.com/contact
Adapt or Get Left Behind
Hybrid meetings are now commonplace amongst companies and membership organizations of all sizes, and the importance of staying with this development should not be overlooked. If you fail to adapt, you will be left behind, hosting outdated meetings and causing upset amongst your attendees and disappointment from those unable to participate remotely.
Age Range of Your Audience
As the global workforce changes, of course so do the methods and technologies along with it. With the growing number of millennials making up the majority of our workforces, it is time to embrace change and make annual meetings engaging for all audiences. This is a large reason why hybrid meetings have become more prevalent in recent years.
Inclusivity & Alienation
Similar to the above, hosting a hybrid meeting allows for everyone to get involved, removing the barriers of travel and cost to the individual, allowing for the silent majority to be heard.
On the flip side of this, having a fully virtual meeting could alienate older generations and reduce their attendance, so to appeal to both demographics, hybrid meetings allow for everyone to be involved and comfortable.
Hosting a hybrid meeting allows for a much more transparent event. For instance, your shareholders or members can see the voting outcome in real time, but this also means that your chair has a good idea of the results as they come in, allowing them to prepare their comments.
On a similar note, questions can be addressed and anyone may participate, either anonymously or by name. Creating this transparency can be both an advantage and a risk, but handled correctly it makes your audience much more trusting and engaged.
Reluctance to Embrace Change
As with any updates of technology there will always be a certain level of resistance. However with the industry changing, hybrids and even virtual AGM will become more and more common in coming years; therefore a more organic rather than forced approach would be recommended. Change is your choice.
Engage a Wider Audience
With a Hybrid Meeting you open up your options to engage your audience, not everyone is passionate enough to attend an on-site event or even vote if it’s not convenient for them; removing barriers such as travel, as alluded to before, increases your engagement and can improve your attendance, both real and virtual.